Managing the menopause at work

Managing the menopause at work

Menopause in the workplace is a hot topic – and for good reason. According to the CIPD’s Guide to managing menopause at work, menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace.

But for some women, dealing with menopause symptoms at work and the fallout from the physical and emotional effects on your career can be so difficult you may be thinking about leaving the job you love - or even the labour market entirely.

Many employers are keen to normalise discussion around menopause and so have policies in place to support menopausal employees, whatever your symptoms. But there are some things you need to know to ensure that you’re supported at work during this important part of your life.

Your work environment

In the same way as you’d expect clean toilet and washing facilities during your period, you should expect the same during menopause. This applies to your permanent place of work and if you’re travelling or working in temporary locations.

If you suffer with headaches or hot flushes you may also need access to cold drinking water and a portable fan, be able to dim lights or close blinds – or have somewhere quiet to recover.

If you have to wear a uniform for work, especially one made from synthetic materials, your employer should ensure that you have somewhere to change if you experience a hot flush or sweating.

Support from your manager

As with any long-term health condition, menopause symptoms may mean you need to have time off work – either because you’re tired from lack of sleep, you don’t feel well enough or because you have an appointment with a health professional for menopause treatment.

You should be able to rely on support from your line manager and feel confident that they will take the menopause into consideration when looking at absence or performance issues. Many employers provide training for managers and HR teams on supporting employees who are absent because of the menopause. But if you feel unable to approach your line manager, for whatever reason, other options should be available such as a wellbeing or welfare officer, Occupational Health or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can act as a mediator.

Support from colleagues

According to the NHS Employers website, there are currently 3.5 million women over 50 in the workforce. And with nearly eight in ten menopausal women in work, it’s likely that other colleagues are going through the same thing. Form a community where you can talk about your symptoms. Humour goes a long way and can help you to cope with this sensitive topic.

Flexible working

All employees in the UK now have the right to ask for flexible working. If you find that the menopause is affecting you at work, your employers should be able to accommodate this, subject to the needs of the business.

This could include taking leave at short notice, changing from full-time to part-time working, changing the hours that you work, working from home, job sharing etc.

But not every job can be as flexible. If your role requires you to work long shifts, if you can’t take regular breaks or if you have to wear a uniform which can feel uncomfortable, you should speak to your manager or HR department who can carry out a menopause risk assessment.

Don’t suffer in silence

There’s plenty that your employer can do to ensure that the menopause doesn’t affect your time at work. If the menopause is affecting your mental health, you should speak to your GP for help and support. 

Speak to our experts at Benenden Hospital

It’s important not to suffer in silence during the menopause. We’re experts in women’s health and offer a range of other private gynaecology services in a comfortable, discreet and reassuring environment in the heart of the Wealden countryside.

Contact our Private Patient team in confidence today by completing our online form or by calling 01580 363158.

Published on 23 June 2022