Author: Paula Beck, HR Business Partner for PACT HR
Published: 18th October 2021
Women over 50 are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace and most will go through the menopause transition during their working lives. Studies have shown that whilst some women go through menopause with little or no symptoms others can experience symptoms which can last several years and have a significant impact on their everyday lives. Menopause is not a gender issue it is very much an organisational issue.
Let’s look at some facts about menopause and why is it important for an employer to be aware of the impact it can have on women at work.
- Menopause is a natural part of aging. It is the time in a woman’s life when her oestrogen levels decline, her periods stop and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. Most women experience it between 45 and 55 years of age but peri-menopause can occur for women from their mid-30s (or earlier) and is the period leading up to menopause.
- Symptoms can include, low energy, stress and anxiety, palpitations, hot flushes and night sweats, difficulty sleeping, brain fog and concentration, mood changes, sensitive bladder, joint and muscle pain. This list is not exhaustive.
- 13 million women are currently estimated to be peri-menopausal or menopausal in the UK (Wellbeing of Women) effecting 1/3 of the entire female population.
- The British Menopause Society Survey found that 45% of women say they feel their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work. 47% have needed to take a day off due to their menopause symptoms and would not tell their employer the real reason.
- A menopause Survey by BUPA and the CIPD found the lack of support offered to menopausal women resulted in 900,000 of them leaving their jobs.
- The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry into the extent of discrimination faced by menopausal people in the workplace.
Why as an employer do you need to be proactive on this issue?
- Supporting women through this transition in their lives can lead to increased engagement, loyalty as well as lower sickness absence and employee turnover.
- Retaining valuable skills and talent.
- It reduces legal risks. Menopause itself isn’t a disability, but the symptoms might be if they meet the definition – if they have a “substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. It is currently being debated as to whether Menopause needs to be a protected characteristic in itself.
- Employers have a duty of care to ensure that work or working conditions do not exacerbate symptoms.
Employers may want to consider:
- Developing a policy, raising awareness and training all managers on the effects and symptoms of menopause.
- Have an awareness of the employment laws that relate to menopausal issues.
- Ensuring health and safety checks are in place to ensure symptoms are not made worse by the workplace.
- Offering employees an alternative person to speak to rather than their manager as the first point of contact i.e. a health and wellbeing champion or another member of the leadership team.
- Making reasonable adjustments where appropriate i.e. moving someone’s desk near a window or away from a radiator. Flexible working, providing fans and drinking water and electronic devices and diaries to assist with memory.
- Sensitively managing sickness absence or a dip in job performance.
How can PACT HR support you?
- We can support you in developing a policy.
- Work with your dedicated HR Business Partner on managing specific cases.
- Provide advice on the employment laws that relate to menopausal issues.
- Provide Wellbeing Guidance and advice.
- Deliver in-house bespoke training.
Should you require advice/support in relation to any of the above please contact your PACT HR Business Partner for support with help supporting your staff.
For more info on how we can support your colleagues and teams, please contact the PACT HR helpdesk on 01274 436644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Last Updated: 18th October 2021