Menopause in the Workplace

Women aged 40-60 years are the fastest growing group at work today. It is important for women who make so much to the workplace that they feel valued and supported. This is unfortunately not always true. Menopause is often not given the priority it deserves and is not considered a serious health condition. Your employer and colleagues should be aware of the impact of menopause. The more we ignore it, the more uncomfortable and stressful work environment that can result.

What can we do to help menopause in the work place?

To understand the effects of menopause on work, women need to be educated about it. Because we receive so little information about menopause, many women don't realise that changes in behavior and work performance can be caused by their menopause symptoms.

We want to inform you about the legal rights of women in the workplace. In addition we also want to offer tips for how to talk about your menopause at work, if necessary. While many employers recognise the importance of supporting women during menopause, others are not as open to this. We can make our workplaces more welcoming by ensuring that every woman is aware of her rights.

Learn how menopause affects your work

Menopausal symptoms can be complex and impact your work performance and relationships. The CIPD surveyed 1,409 women who were in menopause in 2019 and found that:

  • 59% of these women stated that their menopausal symptoms had a negative impact on their work environment.
  • 65 % of respondents said that they are less able concentrate.
  • More than half (58%) of respondents said that they felt more stress.
  • 52 % of respondents said that they feel less patient with colleagues and clients (more than half).
  • A third (30%) of respondents said that they took sick leave, but were unable to explain why.

The most common symptoms are anxiety, fatigue, brain fog and insomnia. These symptoms, whether they are combined or taken alone, can make it difficult for you to focus and stay focused over long periods of time.

Menopause is a sensitive topic that can cause discomfort and can also be very personal. Many women won't choose to talk about it. Many women will feel the same way. Women will often try to manage their symptoms by themselves, and sometimes shy away from seeking help. This is normal. These symptoms can make it difficult for women to feel confident in their abilities to perform their jobs. Worse, some women feel they have to quit their job. Today, 1 in 3 women will quit their job because of menopause.

Talk to your manager

There are many things you can do in order to reduce the negative effects of your menopause.

  • Talk to your line manager about your symptoms
  • Talk to your co-worker about your symptoms
  • Ask about the resources available for you to get additional support.

It is possible to have a conversation with people at work, even though we are aware that it can be difficult. It can help to talk about the topic with your manager. Menopause can be a confusing subject, and many people don't know what it is. Talking to your manager is a good idea. It's a way to be open and honest with them and to feel comfortable talking about your concerns. It's often small, easy changes that women can make to improve their workplace health and comfort that make a difference.

These could be:

  • Women feel empowered, supported, and heard by their policies that include menopause
  • Staff being educated will make it easier to discuss the menopause with no shame.
  • All line managers should be trained or educated on the topic of menopause
  • Supporting employees at work by providing resources

You don't have to talk to your boss if you aren't ready. Instead, reach out to a trusted colleague. You'll likely find out that you aren't the only one going through this. Having someone to support you can help boost your confidence and give you some relief.

Your legal rights

Women can feel more confident asking for help if they know their legal rights.

Employers must prioritise safety and health of their workers by taking steps to eliminate or minimise any hazards or risks in the workplace. This includes making sure that your menopausal symptoms are not exacerbated by the workplace. Flexibility and helping you manage your symptoms comfortably are also important. There are several adjustments that can be made to accommodate menopausal symptoms.

  • Change the temperature at work
  • Ensure that the uniform is comfortable.
  • In jobs that require a lot of manual labour, it is important to allow for time and space for rest.
  • Flexible work hours and allowing breaks as needed

If you feel dismissed or discriminated against because of your menopausal symptoms it is important to file a formal grievance.

Two acts protect the rights of menopausal women. The Equality Act 2010 protects all workers from discrimination (including age, gender, and disability). The Health and Safety at Work Act 1973 ensures that employers act in a practical and reasonable way, and provide safety, health, and welfare at work. These acts do not mention menopause, but discrimination can be a result of being treated unfairly or not taking care of your health.

There are laws that directly relate to your menopause.

  • Sex discrimination - When you feel like you are being treated unfairly due to your sex. This could be because you feel your health isn't being prioritized because your employer doesn’t understand your severe menopausal symptoms.
  • Discrimination against Disability - Menopausal symptoms can seriously limit your ability to work. The disability law protects against discrimination resulting from disability.
  • Age Discrimination – This law will protect you from unfair treatment due to your age. This law is your right and your employer must understand it. Menopause occurs with age.

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