The menopause was firmly on the agenda at the Labour party’s annual conference this month. The shadow equalities minister suggested that Labour would introduce measures to support menopausal women in the workplace including requiring employers to offer flexible working, train managers on the effects of the menopause and adjust absence policies to take into account menopause-related absences.
Most employers recognise the value in providing workplace support to employees who are experiencing personal and health challenges. The steps taken by many organisations to support those with mental health problems in recent years have been positive and have helped reduce the stigma around mental health. Mental health and the menopause share similarities – they are both often considered “taboo” subjects and there is a lack of understanding and awareness of the impact that symptoms can have and how that can affect a person’s experience at work. The value of training managers on these issues cannot be underestimated – it increases managers’ confidence when dealing with these sensitive issues and allows them to understand what steps they can take to make a real difference to their employees’ workplace experience.
Last year the deputy governor of the Bank of England referred to the sluggish UK economy as “menopausal”. Despite the enormous backlash this ill-thought-through description received, unfortunately, it does represent the negative perceptions that some people hold in respect of the menopause. And there are a number of other poor attitudes out there, including the suggestions that menopausal women don’t deserve “special treatment” because “every woman goes through it” and “women have been going through the menopause for centuries”. Whist that may be the case, most astute employers recognise the value in supporting menopausal women – both on a personal level and on a business level. This is particularly so given that menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace. Indeed, seven out of ten women of menopausal age are currently in work in the UK.
So how does the menopause impact women at work and what are the consequences of a lack of support?
- 59% of menopausal women say that the menopause had a negative impact on them at work, the most common reported problems being poor concentration and memory and tiredness
- 14 million working days are lost to the menopause each year although there will be many further absences where employees have disguised the true reason for them out of embarrassment
- one in three menopausal women leave work because of a lack of support resulting in the loss of decades of experience and knowledge.
So, what can we do to make the workplace more accommodating of menopausal women? How can we ensure that managers understand how to support women experiencing menopause symptoms? What kind of adjustments may be suitable? And finally, how can organisations ensure that they don’t expose themselves to costly and damaging discrimination claims?
Our spotlight on menopause in the workplace will answer all of these questions and more! Our October spotlight sold out quickly so we have scheduled two further sessions:
- In Edinburgh on 7th November 2019, 9:30am to 12:30pm
- In Glasgow on 5th December 2019, 9:30am to 12:30pm
You can find out more about the course content here.
You’ll leave the training course equipped with the knowledge and tools that you need to effectively and confidently support employees going through the menopause.
The course can also be delivered in-house for a group of your managers. Please contact our Employment Law and HR Training Manager, Lorna Gemmell, for further information (firstname.lastname@example.org).