18th October was World Menopause Day.
It was World Menopause Day on 18th October and at Birch-HR we took the opportunity to make sure our clients were aware of the support that is out there, so that women do not have to face the menopause alone.
HR want to be sure your work environment supports women’s health. The menopause shouldn’t feel like a taboo and everyone should feel they can have a conversation with their manager about how they’re feeling.
Three quarters of people going through the menopause will experience symptoms and for one quarter, these will be severe and impact their day-to-day life.
Six in 10 people report that their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work.
One in 4 people have also considered leaving their job due to their symptoms.
In 2012, in the case of Merchant v BT plc, the tribunal upheld the employee’s claim of direct sex discrimination when her employer failed to deal with her menopause symptoms in the same way that it would have dealt with other medical conditions.
What can employers do?
Start by normalising the conversation within the workplace, raising awareness and reducing the stigma to enable open and honest discussions. Everyone needs to be educated about what the menopause is, how the menopause can affect people and where to signpost someone for help and support if they need it. A good start is letting staff know, that their employer knows it’s World Menopause Day and they are encouraged to start a conversation. Here is some information to help.
What is the menopause?
A woman’s oestrogen levels fall and she stops having periods. During the time leading up to the menopause – the perimenopause – hormonal changes can cause several physical and psychological symptoms. Some women have mild or no symptoms, but others may have severe symptoms and find it hard to cope. The perimenopause can last for several years, affecting a woman’s performance and attendance at work. The menopause can also affect people from transgender, non-binary and intersex communities, and its symptoms and impact can vary among different ethnic groups.
Many women also experience mood changes, feeling low or anxious, and increased stress at work can make this worse. Without treatment or support, menopausal symptoms can make it harder for women to cope at work, lowering their confidence and interfering with relationships with colleagues and at home. This may affect their morale and performance and lead to days off, or they may continue to work through due to worries about being seen to ‘keep up’ with colleagues or even resign. The menopause comes at a time when women may be going through other stressful life events, such as bereavement, divorce or dealing with elderly parents.
How can employers help employees?
Treat the menopause with the same support and understanding as you would treat any other ongoing health concerns affecting your employees.
The menopause can be a particularly sensitive and personal issue, and some women may be worried that they could be stigmatised by colleagues, so it needs to be handled with care. Normalising the menopause in the workplace shows it’s being taken seriously and women shouldn’t be embarrassed to bring up the topic.
The menopause is a recognised occupational health issue and also a gender and age equality issue. Use workplace guidance, like this to show that your school and/or multi academy is committed to supporting your staff during all stages of a woman’s life. If you don’t have specific menopause policies in place, ask HR to create a general wellbeing policy that recognises the menopause as a key health issue. Also check that flexible working and sickness absence policies cover women going through the menopause. Make sure staff know who they can speak to if they’re experiencing any menopausal symptoms that do, or could, affect their work in any way.
“In the past twelve months, I’ve struggled with brain fog, tiredness due to waking multiple times each night (caused by sweats), and hot flushes during the day. The brain fog is the most frustrating when you’re used to clear thinking, and it’s a worry when you can’t even remember what you’ve just said to someone. I’m getting help from my GP, watching videos and using helpful resources found on line. But what has helped most has been the understanding of my manager. They performed a risk assessment for me and put things into place that will help. I don’t want to let my mood swings get to me, so I go for some fresh air, take walks, eat healthy, take HRT, use a fan and now have a desk next to a window, it helps as my employer understands and recognises what I am going through”.
To help our clients, Birch-HR provided a useful list of resources, so they can support and signpost colleagues affected by the menopause. If you would like more information on this please contact us at email@example.com.