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Menopause in the workplace: what are your rights?

Deborah Garlick

Founder of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace

Managing menopause in the workplace benefits employers and employees. Research shows good employers are putting this in place and it’s time all did.

Women are working for longer. The Office of National Statistics figures show menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic at work. Thankfully, more employers are putting the right awareness and support in place.

Over 5,000 people took part in our recent survey with the TUC and over one in ten respondents said their employer has a menopause policy or guidance in place. Three years ago, that was rare.

How could menopause affect a woman at work?

Menopause symptoms are individual. The top six symptoms women said affected them at work were fatigue and insomnia, hot flushes, difficulty concentrating, memory recall, anxiety and worry. Many people don’t appreciate these can be as a result of menopause. Knowing they are is often a huge relief for women experiencing them.

Yet this is a natural phase in every woman’s life. If you experience symptoms, talk to your GP or a qualified menopause expert.

If your symptoms are affecting you at work, check what support your employer offers and ask for the support you need.

Menopause symptoms are protected under employment law through the Equalities Act 2010. It’s an employer’s responsibility to support employees at work. Even for those without menopause policies, existing policies such as sickness or flexible working will cover menopause.

Your line manager is there to help

Research by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) and the Government  Report tells us the majority of women are unwilling to disclose menopause-related health problems to line managers.

Women often don’t want to be thought of as getting older, or to even feel they may be discriminated against.

There’s absolutely no need to feel this way, a woman could be working for 20 years and be menopausal. Symptoms may be a bump in the road but can be alleviated. It’s time we accepted that and normalise conversations.

Your line manager is there to help and may well surprise you – talk to them. If you really can’t face it, you could talk to HR or Occupational Health. Establish changes that could be made – such as an extra uniform, desk fans or flexible working. These may only be temporary.

Menopause awareness and support works for everyone

Experience tells us that colleagues – men and women – are grateful to employers who put the right support in place. As women continue working later in life it’s important they ask for any support they need. Find out what your employer is doing.

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