As World Menopause Awareness Month comes to an end, we explore what employers can do to support employees affected by menopause. This natural biological process has long been stigmatised and underdiscussed, leaving many employees grappling with its symptoms whilst attempting to work. With an increasing number of workers remaining in employment during their menopausal years, understanding and addressing this issue is no longer an option but a necessity.
What are the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause?
While every person that menstruates feels the effect of menopause differently (there can be up to 48 symptoms of menopause!), common symptoms include:
- mood swings;
- weight gain;
- headaches or migraines;
- hot flushes;
- night sweats, and
- anxiety and depression.
While menopause itself is not categorised as a disability, some of the symptoms of menopause have independently been classified as disabilities. Employers should therefore make sure they provide adequate support to the individual, ensure their fair treatment and refrain from gender-based discrimination. This is crucial at a time where many employers are witnessing a surge in the number of grievances filed relating to treatment endured due to menopause.
So what does this mean for employers?
Employers can implement a variety of adjustments to help support employees going through the menopause:
- Menopause policy: Creating clear policies around menopause at work helps normalise the conversation and shows commitment from management towards supporting affected employees. It also fosters a work environment where employees feel at ease discussing their symptoms.
- Flexible working hours: Changes in sleep patterns are common during menopause. Allowing flexible working hours or remote work can help employees manage their symptoms better.
- Comfortable work environment: Hot flushes are a common symptom of menopause, so ensuring that the workplace is cool and well ventilated can make a big difference. Having rest areas can also provide relief.
Above all else, employers should remember that every individual experiences different symptoms during their transition through menopause, and what might work for one person may not necessarily benefit another.