To help companies better support their female employees, XpertHR has produced a model menopause policy for organisations to adapt to support individuals in their workforce experiencing the menopause. The model policy wording is accompanied by guidance on relevant legislation and case law.

There are around 4.4 million women aged 50-64 years in work, up from 3.3 million just 10 years ago[i]. For most women the menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and lasts between four and eight years. Symptoms are varied but include hot flushes, an inability to sleep, reduced concentration and depression.

A survey of women over the age of 45 by digital healthcare company Forth With Life[ii] found that 90% said their workplace did not offer any support for those experiencing the menopause. Of those that did, only a tiny percentage had a policy in place specifically focusing on the issue. The survey also found that almost a quarter of women experiencing menopausal symptoms had called in sick as a result.

There is therefore a clear need for employers to put in place training, information and processes to raise awareness of the issue across their workforce and highlight the support available – and to document this in a well-publicised policy.

To assist with this, XpertHR’s model policy highlights common symptoms, and sets out potential workplace adjustments and internal support measures. It also includes ideas for external support resources, including:

  • Menopause matters, which provides information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options.
  • The Daisy Network charity, which provides support for women experiencing premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
  • The Menopause Café, which provides information about events where strangers gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss the menopause.

XpertHR head of product content strategy Jo Stubbs says: “The menopause is something that a significant proportion of employees in most organisations are going to experience – and in the 21st century there’s no room for squeamishness around the subject. Ignoring the issue and the difficulties many women face could amount to a breach of health and safety legislation or result in sex, age or disability discrimination claims under the Equality Act.

“Importantly, with an ageing workforce, and retention and engagement at the top of many employers’ agenda, failing to recognise the importance of providing support in this area has the potential to alienate a key group of employees who might otherwise remain committed and focused.

“The ability to talk openly about the issue is crucial. There are also lots of practical ways of improving working conditions for menopausal employees, many of which would be relatively easy to implement. Possible adjustments include providing fans, being flexible about toilet breaks, making sure that uniform design and materials don’t exacerbate symptoms, and allowing flexible working hours to help combat sleeping difficulties.”

For further guidance see the Model Menopause Policy.

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