Employers and employees alike may find the menopause a difficult topic to discuss as it is, of course, a sensitive and personal matter.
Menopause and women in work
The menopause is part of the natural ageing process for women, usually in their late 40s or 50s, and it can have a significant impact on women in work in terms of attendance and capability.
Effects of the menopause may include:
- Insomnia, fatigue, mood swings and surges of feeling hot
- Struggling to remember things, concentrate and focus at work
- Taking longer to recover from illness.
All of the above can have a serious knock-on effect on confidence, stress and anxiety. It can also lead to absences which are often reported as being for a different reason.
Inclusive workplace strategy
Most recent estimates by the Office of National Statistics suggest that there are 3.26 million women over 50 working in the UK. Some reports suggest it this is actually more like over 4 million women in work, who have recently begun or are about to begin the menopause.
The CIPD report “The level of support that women receive at this stage of their working life can be pivotal in facilitating their continued economic participation. The menopause is an important gender and age equality issue, and should be part of an organisation’s approach to developing inclusive workplaces that support women’s progression.”
Developing a strategy which includes raising awareness and breaking down the taboo of talking about menopause in order to support these women in your organisation, may be appropriate and may encourage women to speak the support they may need from their employer.
Training, understanding and support
Acas recommends that employers should train managers and develop a policy to ensure an understanding in the organisation of how the menopause can affect women at work and what support might be appropriate. Consider an approach such as this which may give an employee confidence to talk to you about any issues they have or support they feel they need.
Further HR Guidance
Watch our webinar about the new Acas Guidance on Age Discrimination in which we discuss the menopause at work.