By Jay Bhayani, managing director of Legal Futures Associate Bhayani HR & Employment Law
A 14-day survey was conducted by The Women and Equalities Committee which found that nearly a third of women (31%) have missed work due to their symptoms.
The research report which polled 2,161 women found that 99% of women experience at least one menopause symptom which affects them negatively at work. The report stated that 72% described having hot flushes and night sweats, 69% stated that they had anxiety or depression, 41% had heart palpitations and headaches, 75% had problems with memory and concentrations and the most common symptom was 81% having difficulty sleeping.
Despite this, the women conveyed that there is still a considerable stigma around talking about menopause in the workplace. When asking for support in the workplace, only under 11% of respondents requested adjustments due to the menopause symptoms. A fifth of women who didn’t ask for the adjustments did not ask as they didn’t know who to speak to were worried about the reaction of others in the workplace. Of those who did request an adjustment, 55% found the adjustment useful but 30% did not receive an adjustment at all.
The report asked what employers can do to support their employees experiencing menopause symptoms and there was a number of responses of what they wanted: provide flexibility for employees, education about menopause, providing adjustments in the workplace, support cultural changes, and develop support networks. For specific adjustments, the women said that having fans at desks, better ventilation, accessibility to drinking water, easy access to toilets and uniforms appropriate for menopause would help them. These are easy and efficient ways that an employer can support their employees.
The report by The Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) is an ongoing enquiry into the extent of the discrimination menopausal women face in the workplace and what a workplace plus the government can do to support these women.
The chair of the WEC, Caroline Nokes states that she was “saddened but not surprised” but the findings. She expressed how the survey just shows how common the symptoms are and how obvious the impact is in the workplace for these women, and they should not feel ashamed. Nokes confirmed that the solutions were “easy reach” for employers, and they are practical adjustments that can be made and there needs to be a focus on eliminating ‘banter’ that menopause is a women’s problem.
Rachel Suff, a senior policy advisor for CIPD said that employers need to be approachable and listen to the employee’s concerns as only 32% and 29% of the women who participated in the survey didn’t feel supported by the colleagues or line managers.
As a result, organisations need to perhaps look at their existing policies to provide support to colleagues going through menopause or any other menstrual or reproductive health issues. This ensures that the employees have the opportunity to share their personal experiences and gain the support they need to help them in the workplace.
If you want any more information on the report, you can find it here at https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/8995/documents/152634/default/
If you feel that a menopause policy within your business would be valuable to you please don’t hesitate to contacts us on 0333 88 1360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide you with a quote. For all Watertight HR & Legal clients the menopause policy is included within your package and so please contact your dedicated advisor who will happily provide you with both a policy and any guidance you might require.