Menopause and the workplace
It’s important to remember that the menopause is normal and that support should be available to help you at work.
Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce, so it's important now more than ever to be able to speak openly about menopause at work.
Menopause can affect a woman's working life. Sometimes menopausal symptoms or working conditions can impact your ability to concentrate or carry out your role to the best of your ability.
In a survey of 1,000 adults in the UK, the British Menopause Society found that 45% of women felt that menopausal symptoms had a negative impact on their work and 47% who needed to take a day off work due to menopause symptoms say they wouldn’t tell their employer the real reason.
Many women have said that they often find managing their menopause symptoms in the workplace very challenging. Coping with symptoms in the workplace can be hard, especially as many women find it difficult to talk about menopause at work.
Things you can do
You can request reasonable adjustments be made within your workplace to help you manage your menopausal symptoms, such as:
- flexible working
- requesting a different uniform if you are experiencing hot flushes
- moving to a cooler part of the office or asking for a fan
- using technology where it can help you, for example setting up reminders on your phone or taking more notes to help with 'brain fog'
It's useful to think about the practical changes that will help you. If you have access to an occupational health service, you can speak to them about support and possible work adjustments.
If you have supportive work colleagues talk about your experiences with them, you may find that you’re not alone.
Outside of the workplace, you should consider lifestyle changes such as taking part in more exercise or walking more as well as eating a healthy balanced diet. You should also look for local Menopause Cafes or social media groups online to speak to people going through a similar experience.
How your employer can support you
If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are impacting your ability to work, you can speak to your manager and let them know what you're going through.
Opening up to someone in a professional environment may feel awkward, especially if your manager is someone you don't feel comfortable talking to about personal matters. If you feel like this is the case, you could try speaking to a different member of your management team or human resources (HR).
Before speaking to someone you could try:
- taking notes of your menopausal symptoms and how or when they are affecting you
- preparing what you plan to discuss with a friend
- thinking of solutions that you think could help you
If you are a manager
There are lots of resources available that can help you understand more about the menopause and the support women experiencing menopausal symptoms in your workplace may need.
There are solutions available to help women continue to work comfortably during menopause.
Things you might want to consider offering employees:
- flexible working such as changing working patterns or working from home
- counselling through workplace
- option to take more regular breaks
- more time to prepare before meetings, appointments or engagements
Further information about supporting someone through the menopause
Guidance from the Faculty of Occupational Health
Guidance from the Faculty of Occupational Health suggests that regular, informal conversations between manager and employee may help conversations about changes in health, including menopause. It's important to keep in mind that unless an employee mentions it directly, it's not appropriate to suggest someone is experiencing menopause.
It may be helpful for line managers to simply check-in regularly about employees wellbeing. If the topic of menopause is raised, it's important to acknowledge this is a normal stage of life and that changes and adjustments can easily be made. Having these conversations can identify support at work that can help women. You can also encourage them to discuss any relevant health concerns with their GP practice.
31 January 2023
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