Friday, 14 October 2022 09:14

Understanding the Menopause

World Menopause Day is marked next Tuesday on 18th October, the date designated by the Menopause Society. We were reminded of its imminence this week with calls for a menopause test for all women over the age of 45 in a report commissioned for the ‘Menopause All-party Parliamentary Group’ of MPs.

We first posted about the menopause and the workplace a year ago following an increase in public awareness and media attention. This has continued over the last 12 months fuelled by some celebrity advocacy and reports of a shortage in Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) and difficulties faced by women in getting a diagnosis.

Employers need to remain constantly mindful of the menopause because of its potential effects it can have on some members of staff. It can affect the mood and confidence of some employees and lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, ultimately affecting performance. Mis-interpreting such changes in behaviour or not understanding the reasons behind the changes, could lead to uncomfortable situations and the potential mis-treatment of the affected employee(s).

Usually occurring in women between the ages of 45 and 55, the menopause is when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and levels of hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone falls. The hormonal fluctuations cause a number of symptoms associated with the menopause. Most commonly these are hot flushes, night sweats and difficulty sleeping.

The affected age range means that for some employers there is potential for a large number of workers to be going through it at any one time. However, the random nature of symptoms can make it difficult to diagnose conclusively. Equally, individuals going through the menopause may experience difficult in coming to terms with the fact or may fear being treated differently. The proposed test could help to pave the way for a more measured approach and agreed courses of treatment.

Apart from the compelling reasons for maintaining individuals’ basic dignity, there are real benefits employers recognising the need to understand the menopause more. Not least of which is how offering appropriate support will help to retain valuable team members.

A culturally accepting environment where individuals can feel comfortable to admit to struggling with symptoms without fear of reprisal or embarrassment should be the default position of all employers. The menopause is only temporary and so some flexible working initiatives could be initiated that support employees during the time they are affected.

It has been a while since any high profile cases regarding the menopause have come to light, but the parliamentary party may make propose changes that would see the condition fall under the remit of the Equalities Act. This will of course force companies to act out of fear of expensive Tribunal claims, but as usual, we would advocate a carrot rather than stick approach and encourage organisations to implement policies now and educate all employees. After all, whether at work or at home, many individuals are likely to experience either first or second hand, the effects of the menopause.

On that point, we should also remember that partners of those experiencing the menopause may be indirectly affected. It’s not uncommon for symptoms to create stresses and strains on relationships which may in turn affect the performance of staff members who are not experiencing the menopause themselves.

We are also seeing the male equivalent, the andropause, gaining wider recognition and transgender individuals are equally likely to experience symptoms.

A wealth of information is available on the Internet and in the media and a good place to start might the International menopause society website https://www.imsociety.org/. And here we remind y6u of our list of quick wins so that you can take steps and easily implement some measures to help you create that inclusive and open culture:

  1. Have a practical and inclusive menopause policy for your business. You can download one from our website here. There’s also a detailed fact sheet.
  2. Ensure your managers understand your policy and are trained and confident to have sensitive and confidential conversations.
  3. Consider a wellbeing or menopause champion. Someone that can be spoken to in confidence.
  4. Raise awareness of the menopause across the business. This might be simply highlighting articles like this one.
  5. Some simple and inexpensive reasonable adjustments can be made for individuals who may be experiencing symptoms. Think desk fans, sited near a window and close to toilets and cold drinking water.
  6. Remind staff of what’s included in your employee assistance programmes. For example, taking advantage of 24/7 GP appointments or counselling services

As usual we’re here to help and advise on this topic and anything else regarding HR and Employment Law. Call us on 01452 331331 or drop us an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 851 times Last modified on Friday, 14 October 2022 09:33


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