Today is World Menopause Day!

October 18, 2023

Today (18 October) is World Menopause Day, which is held each year to raise awareness, break the stigma, and highlight the support available for improving health and wellbeing for those experiencing menopause.

Menopause is not just a gender or age issue, it is an organisational issue which can impact colleagues both directly or indirectly.

Awareness around this topic is key to reducing the stigma attached to menopause and encourages people to talk more openly about it.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that:

  • women aged 50 and over are the fastest growing group in the workforce, and the average age for menopause transition is 51;
  • three out of five working women aged between 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work;
  • more than half of this group said they experienced more stress;
  • nearly a third of women have taken sick leave due to their symptoms, but only a quarter told managers the real reason why.

The menopause affects most women and other people who have a menstrual cycle, including:

  • trans people whose gender is not the same as the sex they were assigned at birth; and
  • people with “variations of sex development” or who identify as intersex, or use the term “differences in sex development”.

The menopause usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age, but can also happen earlier or later in someone’s life. For many people, symptoms last about four years, but in some cases symptoms can last a lot longer. There are three different stages to the menopause:

  • perimenopause;
  • menopause;
  • postmenopause.

Some people might also experience early menopause or go through medical menopause earlier in their lives. These types of menopause can be medically complicated, so employers should consider this when supporting their staff.

World Menopause Day 2023

The theme for World Menopause Day 2023 is cardiovascular disease.

The link between reproductive factors and cardiovascular disease is another important aspect of menopause that women need to be aware of.

Researchers have recently discovered that a woman’s reproductive experiences, including menstruation, pregnancy, any breast cancer treatments, and menopause, can affect the chances of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. Awareness of this can help determine an individuals risk.

Menopause in the workplace

The menopause is a natural stage of life experienced by most women, yet it remains a taboo subject in many workplaces.

Managing the effects of the menopause at work is important for both employers and their staff. For those experiencing symptoms it can be a difficult and stressful time, and everyone will experience the menopause differently and for some, symptoms can be severe and affect people both physically and mentally.

For employers, the menopause is a health and wellbeing concern for staff and needs to be handled sensitively. It is important for employers to be aware that the menopause and its symptoms can affect staff at any time. Being aware of this can help staff continue to do their job confidently and effectively.

Relatives, partners, colleagues or carers can be impacted from caring for someone going through the menopause. Although the menopause will only be experienced by women and other people who have a menstrual cycle, men should also be included in conversations and training.

Supporting and creating a positive and open environment between an employer and someone affected by the menopause can help prevent the person from:

  • losing confidence in their skills and abilities;
  • feeling like they need to take time off work and hide the reasons for it;
  • having increased mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression;
  • leaving their job.

If an employee or worker is put at a disadvantage, or treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms, this could be discriminatory if connected to a protected characteristic.

Advice for employers

It is important for employers to support staff through every stage of the menopause. Having early and regular follow-up conversations with staff to understand their needs can help make sure support and procedures are in place so they can continue to do their job effectively.

ACAS states that employers should consider how the person’s job role and responsibilities could make their menopause symptoms harder to deal with, such as:

  • working longer shifts;
  • not being able to take regular toilet breaks;
  • their jobs requiring a uniform which may cause discomfort;
  • their jobs not having much flexibility.

It can given staff more confidence to talk to their managers about the effects of the menopause on their work if they know the managers are trained to:

  • talk and listen sensitively;
  • find ways to give support;
  • have knowledge of the menopause and its effects;
  • know what support and guidance the organisation can offer.

Employers should train all managers, supervisors and team leaders to make sure they understand:

  • how the law relates to the menopause;
  • how to talk with and encourage staff to raise any menopause concerns;
  • how different stages and types of menopause can affect staff;
  • what support and workplace changes are available to staff;
  • how to deal with menopause issues sensitively and fairly;
  • how gender identity links to the menopause and why it is important.
Risk assessments

By law employers are responsible for the health and safety of all staff, including those working from home. The Equality Act 2010 protects workers against discrimination, and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, says an employer must, where reasonably practicable, ensure everyone’s health, safety and welfare at work.

Employers must conduct a risk assessment of their staff’s work and workplace and those working from home, including:

  • generally assessing health and safety risks at work;
  • minimising, reducing and where possible, removing health and safety risks for staff.

For staff affected by the menopause, this includes ensuring menopause symptoms are not made worse by the workplace or its work practices, and making changes to help staff manage their symptoms when doing their job. For the menopause, a risk assessment could include:

  • the temperature and ventilation of the workplace;
  • the material and fit of the organisation’s uniform;
  • whether there is somewhere suitable for staff to rest if needed;
  • whether toilet facilities are easily accessible;
  • whether cold drinking water is available;
  • whether managers and supervisors have been trained on health and safety issues relating to the menopause.
Having a menopause policy

To help staff feel supported it is a good idea to have a policy specifically for the menopause. This should be shared across the whole organisation, be reviewed regularly, and be the basis for any training the organisation gives to managers.

The policy can help everyone in the organisation understand:

  • what the menopause is and how it can affect people;
  • how it affects everyone differently;
  • what support is available to staff affected by it;
  • what training is provided to managers, supervisors and team leaders;
  • who the organisation’s point of contact is for menopause related queries;
  • how the organisation is open and trained to talk and listen sensitively about the effects of the menopause;
  • the employer’s commitment to support its diverse workforce and prevent discrimination.

Part of the policy could include having a menopause or wellbeing champion at work to help those affected by the menopause. The champion could be a point of contact if staff need advice, or someone to initially talk to if they are not comfortable talking to their managers.

This is valid as of 18th October 2023.

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