In the past couple of years much more has been talked about managing menopause in the workplace. Supporting women colleagues at menopause can be simple and highly effective if you apply appropriate reasonable adjustments.
Menopause is a Workplace Issue
Employers who support women colleagues at menopause can achieve:
- higher productivity,
- less sickness leave and absenteeism,
- better staff retention and
- higher morale.
On the negative side, employers who ignore this issue make themselves vulnerable to Employment Tribunal cases. The Equality Act 2010 covers menopause and there have been several cases successfully brought by women experiencing long-term symptoms that have had a severe adverse effect on their work activities.
Approximately 20-25% of women experience disruptive menopause symptoms and they can include hot flushes, poor and interrupted sleep, low mood, anxiety, brain fog, memory problems and loss of concentration. Experiencing intense symptoms on a frequent basis can lead to low levels of energy and loss of confidence.
Here are some suggestions for reasonable adjustments that have been drawn from recent research:
- Provide access to cold drinking water. This will enable women to stay hydrated which will assist with hot flushes, clearer thinking and concentration.
- Make personal storage space available for sanitary items and medication. Some women experience heavier and more frequent periods during perimenopause. It is important in open plan offices, particularly where there is a hot desking policy, that women have discreet storage space to avoid embarrassment.
- Offer flexible working times to combat issues caused by sleep disturbance. Later start times can be a very acceptable solution.
- Review ventilation around workstations. Women experiencing hot flushes may need to sit closer to a window, air conditioning unit or a fan.
- Evaluate uniforms for women employees and consider whether any adjustments or an alternative uniform for women is required. Uniforms that are close-fitted or made of man-made fibres can exacerbate hot flushes, causing women to sweat profusely.
- Ensure easy access to toilet facilities, including when women employees are traveling or working in temporary locations.
- If work duties require constant standing or prolonged sitting, provide access to a rest room.
It pays to be proactive about providing support to women employees at menopause. If you need more help or training for your staff contact me for more information.
Guidance on Menopause and the Workplace