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It may be 2021 but there are still some subjects that are very taboo in the workplace. Menopause is one of them. 
 
Menopause effects millions every year and if you employ staff, it is likely that someone in your organisation is going through it or has been through it. 
 
It is a natural process that can affect: 
 
🟢 Women 
🟢 Trans people 
🟢 Intersex people 
 
For some, menopause will be relatively easy. They may only experience some mild symptoms but for others, it is a different story. 
 
Whilst some employers may choose to ignore this process, menopause is a health and wellbeing issue, and you have an obligation to support your staff. If a staff member feels that they are at a disadvantage due to symptoms, you could be open to discrimination accusations. 
 

How can menopause affect a staff members ability to do their job? 

It can be an extremely difficult time. Some symptoms may cause embarrassment and if an employee feels they need to hide it, it will impact their role as well as the role of their teammates. 
 
✅ The staff member may lose confidence in themselves and their ability 
✅ Their mental health may be affected which could cause stress, anxiety, depression or other illnesses 
✅ Sickness levels may increase. If a staff member feels they need to hide their symptoms, they may be inclined to stay at home 
✅ They may leave their job 
 

How can you support staff members going through the menopause? 

As soon as an employee advises you that they are going through the menopause, you should carry out a risk assessment. This applies to staff members working in the office or working from home. You should establish: 
 
➡️ If menopausal symptoms are made worse by the workplace or their role 
➡️ What changes you can make to assist them in their role 
 
Once you have carried out a risk assessment you can put a plan in place to support them. You can consider: 
 
➡️Flexible working patterns or a change in hours/days 
➡️ Less restrictive clothing if uniform is used 
➡️ Regular breaks 
➡️ Ensuring the workplace temperature is appropriate and provide access to water 
➡️ Having a quiet place for them to take a break 
 

Going the extra mile - what else can you do to support staff  

Whilst you can put things in place to support your employees, it is vital that the rest of the organisation are onboard. Your managers should be trained in this area and capable of offering the same level of support as you are. 
 
As well as this, you could consider having menopause and well-being champions. A person or persons who are well trained in this subject who are there to talk and support the employee through it. They can also act as the go between if the employee does not feel confident enough to talk to you or your management team directly. 
 
You could also develop a menopause policy. This will help you to be fair to all employees as staff members will be aware of the process when they come into the company. 
 
You need to be aware that not all employees will want to discuss this. They may feel that this is a private issue and be reluctant to disclose their symptoms to you. This can be difficult to manage as you should respect their wishes but not let it interfere with productivity or team motivation. 
 
If this is the case, you should give the staff member ample opportunity to talk to you about it during 1-2-1’s or give staff the choice to talk to other team members about their symptoms. 
 

The Law 

Under the Equality Act 2010 and Health and Safety Act 1974, you must take reasonable steps to provide support for employees going through the menopause. This can include: 
 
➡️ Perimenopause 
➡️ Menopause 
➡️ Post Menopause 
 
Although the law does not specifically mention menopause, it is considered to be a well-being issue and should an employee be treated differently or be put at a disadvantage due to menopausal symptoms, it could be classed as discrimination. 
 
Open the dialogue, create an open and understanding culture and make it as easy as possible for staff members to be honest about how they are feeling. 
 
Please do not hesitate to contact daxa@hrresultsltd.co.uk if you would like to discuss the plan you would like to put in place. Taking HR from 'TO DO' to 'DONE'. 
 
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