Menopause - What can Employers do to Proactively Manage an Age and Gender Diverse Workplace?Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 18 July 2023
The Menopause affects nearly 600,000 women at any one time in Ireland between the ages of 45 and 55.
Menopause is defined by the ending of menstruation and is often referred to as, “the change”. Whilst the menopause is a natural part of the life cycle for women, it is still a taboo subject in many workplaces. Symptoms may be experienced for several years and therefore menopause is considered a transitional phase. Symptoms can include irregular and/or heavy periods, hot flushes, difficulty concentrating, night sweats, emotional changes, migraines, fatigue, trouble sleeping & a loss of confidence.
Many women feel these symptoms have a negative impact on their performance and attendance in the workplace.
It is important to remember that women who are treated less favourably in the workplace can take a discrimination claim based on gender, age or disability.
So what can employers do to proactively manage an age and gender diverse workplace?
As an employer you should Be Aware and Understand, by keeping a consistently open attitude and be aware of what your employees are going through, this will ensure that your employees don’t feel alone or embarrassed in certain situations.
Employers may adopt a Standalone Policy covering the menopause and directing the employees to support channels available to them in the workplace. Guidance for both employees and their managers should be made available freely through the workplace. Simple changes within the work environment such as an adjustment in room temperature could make all the difference in helping provide more comfortable working environments to those experiencing symptoms.
Carry out a Risk assessment - in order to provide reasonable accommodation or make helpful adjustments to the work environment where it is deemed necessary to assist the employee.
Training & Information - Your management team should be trained to understand the impact that menopause can have on an employees health and performance at work. Also ensure that all events that are happening within the Company are shared with all employees, e.g. health & wellbeing days, etc. and that employees are clear on how to access the supports available.
The introduction of Flexible Working Options can allow employees to manage their working hours in a way that suits them to facilitate regular breaks and medical appointments. Equally, perhaps a change in their times of work will help them to carry out their duties during particular hours that are more conducive to optimal performance.
Build Good Working Relationships with your individual Team members, ensure you check in with them regularly and hold regular one to one conversations with them as well as team meetings. Remember everyone is different and some will be more willing to talk than others but regular contact will help facilitate this process as you become more familiar with each other and develop a healthy, honest working relationship that doesn’t cross boundaries.
An Open Door Policy should be encouraged, which allows your employees to contact you with regard to work related or personal problems which are treated with the strictest confidence. This would give the employee a safe space to share their concerns and would provide assistance in resolving problems or fears. Your policies should reflect this; where the business will make time for employees and listen to them sympathetically and offer realistic solutions.
Create a Menopause friendly workplace - employers should strive for an inclusive environment where employees feel safe to talk to their manager if they are experiencing difficulties due to symptoms of menopause and where all are treated fairly.
Above all employers should Provide Support to employees who have made them aware of struggles they are going through and, without offering medical advice, you can offer them a listening ear and signpost them to the various supports that are available.
Remember the importance of the employees’ privacy in such matters as this is highly sensitive personal data and therefore Confidentiality must be kept as a priority to ensure their trust is maintained. Treat the menopause as you would any other Health issue in the workplace.
The use of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which offers a free confidential counselling service and other information which would assist in resolving difficulties which may affect health, well-being and work performance. The use of the EAP can assist hugely when offering support to employees who are experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms or who are going through the menopause.
Menopause has become a more widely spoken of topic in recent years with many celebrities opening up about their experiences trying to break the Taboo. Radio talk shows have been dedicated solely to discussing the effects of menopause on Women and even the Government has recognised that menopause is a key health issue for women in Ireland today. The Department of Health established the Women’s Health Taskforce in 2019 to improve Women’s Health outcomes and Menopause has been highlighted as a priority within the group. In October 2022, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, launched the inaugural Menopause Awareness week which was centered around World Menopause day on 18th October. A national awareness campaign was commenced through various media outlets to take the mystery out of menopause and break down the barriers to talking about the subject. See their website for more information: https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/menopause/
Legal Island Training Resources for Your Staff
Menopause | eLearning Course
Are you responsible for overseeing and managing the wellbeing of all employees in your organisation? The purpose of our course on menopause is to improve your staff’s understanding of the menopause and help create a more comfortable working environment for women experiencing the menopause. This course is for all employees, regardless of gender. Dispelling the taboo surrounding menopause, helps an organisation build a more inclusive workforce and a great place to work. The cost of supporting colleagues in the workplace with compassion and simple reasonable adjustments is minimal in comparison with the cost of losing an employee.
Click here to access a free demo of this course, or access it as part of our employee wellbeing toolkit along with several other key mental health and well-being topic areas.This article is correct at 18/07/2023
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.