A new report, commissioned by Health & Her, has highlighted the impact of menopause on women aged between 50 and 64. Almost a third of working women in this age bracket reported having to take time out of their working week as a result of menopause symptoms and many admitted that they have left, or considered leaving, their career because dealing with the symptoms in the workplace is too difficult.
There are over 30 recognised symptoms of the menopause and around eight in every ten women will suffer from one or more of these symptoms, which can have a significant impact on daily life. For many, these symptoms can have a negative effect on their performance and attendance at work. The report detailed that women rarely speak to their employer about the symptoms of menopause, yet almost a quarter of the women surveyed reported that they found the symptoms so debilitating that they had considered reducing their working hours or changing their working pattern completely as a result of them.
Employers have an important role to play in supporting women through the menopause and, by doing so, can retain valuable talent and avoid the costs associated with replacing employees and managing absences related to menopause symptoms. The symptoms of menopause have been found by employment tribunals to fall within the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010 where the impact of symptoms has a substantial and long-term negative impact on the sufferer’s ability to carry out normal daily activities. It is therefore important to consider how adjustments can be made in the workplace to improve or alleviate symptoms where possible. Examples of such adjustments may include offering a flexible working arrangement such as a later start and finish time, or providing a fan or moving a desk closer to a window. Developing a menopause policy and educating managers on how to support women experiencing symptoms will help to create an environment where there is no stigma surrounding menopause, and anyone experiencing symptoms receives the same support and understanding as those dealing with any other health issue.