Supporting menopause in the workplace should be part of every employer’s well-being strategy; it makes business sense.
Around 3.5 million women aged over 50 years are currently in employment in the UK and women now represent nearly half of the UK labour force. The menopause affects all women, usually between the ages of 45-55. Symptoms vary from women to women and have an impact not only on the individual but on their colleagues. Quite often women do not recognise that their symptoms could in fact be the menopause, especially at the early stage.
Menopause and the law.
Menopause is covered by the Equality Act 2010. The first employment tribunal case concerning menopause was successfully tested in 2012. The employee (whose concentration was affected) alleged that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of her gender when her employer failed to deal with her menopause symptoms in the same way that it would have dealt with other medical conditions. The employment tribunal held this discriminatory and unfair. It said that a man suffering from ill health with comparable symptoms from another medical condition and with performance issues would not have been treated in the same way. This was also directly against the employer’s own policy.
What are the possible signs and symptoms? They could include all or just some of the following: –
- Poor concentration & memory
- Tiredness and sleepiness
- Low mood, depression and reduced confidence
- Hot flushes, night sweats
- Difficulty coping with work-based tasks.
The symptom I can personally relate to is brain fog for even freeze; forgetting words, sometimes mid-sentence. Or forgetting what you were even talking about. Frustrating and embarrassing!
Here are some recommendations for employers to consider: –
- Provide training to managers to raise awareness that menopause can present difficulties for some women and how to support them.
- Review workplace conditions, such as ventilation and workplace temperature.
- Consider flexible working hours so that consideration is given to poor sleep patterns.
- Have flexibility in your dress code and ensure the provision of changing facilities.
- Access to restrooms with cool water, to enable privacy from acute symptoms.
- The opportunity to consult an Occupational Health professional or an expert in dealing with menopause.
- Consider relaxation techniques such as Mindfulness or cognitive behaviour therapy.
It is important to remember that the menopause is a natural and, in most cases, a temporary stage in a woman’s life. As well as obtaining help from your employer, it is worth taking a visit to your GP. HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) is just one of the treatments that is open for exploration. There are also natural therapies to consider. Take a look at the NHS website to find out more.
We hope that this will have provoked you in to giving this area more thought. If you have any queries or need help, please contact Hill HR.
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