Menopause in the workplace

It’s time we changed the way we talk about menopause in the workplace and make sure women have the right support to handle menopause symptoms.

urgent and important phrase handwritten on chalkboard with vintage precise stopwatch used instead of OWe’re an ageing population, we’re working longer, there are increasing numbers of women in the workplace, including many more in senior positions and in future there will be an even higher proportion of working women of menopausal age.

The menopause and the impact it has on women to work effectively is one of the last health taboos.

Here’s the facts:

  • 3.5 million women aged between 50-65 work in the UK today.
  • Women menopause on average at the age of 51.
  • 75% experience symptoms, of which 25% experience serious symptoms.
  • 4 out of 10 women do not seek medical advice even though their symptoms are worse than they expected.
  • For many women symptoms usually last between 4 and 8 years and can be longer.
  • The survey by ITV’s Tonight programme, in collaboration with charity Wellbeing of Women, also revealed that a quarter (25 per cent) of women currently going through the menopause had considered leaving work because of their experiences.

How does the menopause affect women in work?

A report by Professor Amanda Griffiths, deputy director of the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations, The University of Nottingham, in 2010 for The British Occupational Health Research Foundation looked at the experiences of over 900 working women of menopausal age and found that it’s treated as a taboo subject.

In addition, women we’ve talked to, and companies who’ve started to introduce support for women going through the menopause firmly believe it’s really appreciated. The initiatives and changes don’t even need to be significant to make a huge difference.

We believe it starts with increasing the awareness and understanding of menopause and being able to talk about it openly without any stigma. Without understanding the potential range of symptoms and how they could affect how a woman feels at work makes it hard for a manager to provide the right support.

Not only are women appreciative of the extra help but also men have told us they are too. Whether that’s helping them understand and support their wife or partner or understanding what colleagues are going through.

It only takes a few small changes to policies and practices or simple initiatives to make all the difference. The four overarching issues concluded in the report are to improve:

  • Greater awareness of managers about the menopause as a possible occupational health issue for women.
  • Increased flexibility of working hours and working arrangements.
  • Better access to informal and formal sources of support.
  • Improvements in workplace temperature and ventilation.

What we’re seeing now…

  • More progressive organisations are starting to raise awareness and support menopausal women, although many organisations haven’t started on the journey.
  • Proactive organisations support women, helping them to continue contributing to their business and achieve their potential.
  • The first cases of sexual discrimination in relation to menopause are being won. Others are on the radar and could be age, gender or even disability discrimination related. These result not only in financial costs for businesses, but potentially reputation costs too.
  • The press are increasingly reporting on menopause in the workplace.

New menopause guidelines are due out soon from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and the Government has commissioned research studies into menopause support materials available, so change is coming. Another reason for forward-thinking organisations to start factoring menopause into their company guidelines.

Henpicked is passionate about making menopause a subject that is out in the open, raising awareness in women as to what their options are and informing employers about how they can put menopause on their agenda.

We have now also created a modular programme to make it easy for an organisation to support menopause in the workplace, whether it’s simply including menopause in your policies or taking part in full engagement programmes, working with our menopause and professional experts.

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The Menopause in the Workplace event is on 28 February 2017 in Nottingham. THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT.

We will be running another event this year, get in touch for more information.

Deborah Garlick

About Deborah Garlick

I'm the founder of Henpicked. I love reading the wonderful stories and articles women send us - I read every one. I've learnt so much and hope others enjoy them too. I believe life's about being happy and that we're here to help one another. And that women are far wiser than they often realise, so let's stop putting ourselves down.