Menopause at work: how can my employer help?

The menopause is a time in a woman’s life when periods stop as a result of the ovarian reproductive function. If you’re going through the menopause, you’re not alone. Did you know that a recent government report by Professor Jo Brewis states that menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace?

It’s important that workplaces take their duty of care seriously for people going through the menopause. A survey in 2016 states that one in four women have considered leaving work due to the impact of their symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the menopause?

The average age of the onset of the menopause is 51 with 80% of women fully menopausal by 54. Perimenopause can occur in women and other people from their mid-40s or younger, causing some symptoms of the menopause as the body is transitioning to the full menopause.

Symptoms can include:

  • poor concentration
  • poor memory
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • insomnia
  • low confidence/anxiety
  • joint pain
  • tiredness
  • bladder control

It’s important to note that the menopause can also affect:

  • trans people (those whose gender is not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth)
  • people with variations of sex development (VSD) – some people might prefer to identify as intersex or use the term differences in sex development (DSD)

What can my employer do to help women and other people coping with the menopause at work?

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine has made several recommendations to help employers to support colleagues going through the menopause. These include:

  • training for employers and managers to raise awareness in the workplace
  • encouraging open discussion on normality of menopause and health related problems
  • reviewing workplace temperature where possible. This could include use of air conditioning, desk top fans, open windows, changing workstations and access to cold drinking water
  • flexible working
  • where uniforms are compulsory, providing thermally comfortable material and allowing the removal of neckties or jackets
  • for staff who are required to sit or stand for long periods, allowing access to a rest room or space to walk about
  • for staff in a customer facing role, allowing access to a quiet room to help manage flushes
  • talking to occupational health in work regarding work adjustments

Your rights at work are protected. The menopause is covered under the Equality Act 2010.

Remember the menopause is temporary and is a natural stage in a woman’s life.

We hope that what was previously seen as a taboo subject is changing and employers are slowly becoming aware of what they can do to retain experienced and valued staff members. And recognising the financial implication on their businesses if they are unable to make changes.

The following organisations provide further advice on the menopause:

If you’re going through the menopause and need advice on managing it at work, support is available. Check if you’re eligible for employment support from Work Well.