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Women's health

Menopause at work

The menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life and the way this affects each woman is individual and unique. Many women need some help and some adjustments with the symptoms that menopause can bring, however for some women these symptoms can be devastating and can impact on all areas of life including work.

This can be from feeling less confident in a role, to not going for promotions to thinking about stopping work or changing careers.

In order for this to change for the better, there needs to be open and honest discussions about menopause in the workplace and how it affects employees. Employers and employees should have access to a range of tools and support to help women who are struggling with menopausal symptoms.

Some key facts

  • The Equality Act 2010 tells us that although the menopause is not an illness or disability, the effects of the symptoms experienced can be disabling for women which means that employers who fail to properly support women could be found to be discriminatory. 
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides for safe working, which includes working conditions when experiencing symptoms of the menopause.
  • It has been estimated that there are around 13 million women who are currently peri or menopausal in the UK, which is about one third of the entire UK female population.
  • According to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, almost 8 out of 10 of menopausal women are in work.

Good practice

All organisations should have a menopause at work strategy (or one can be adopted, for example NHS Employers). There should be clear commitment that menopause is a workplace issue from the organisation, and this should involve reviewing developing any policies that are not in place, including working with trade unions.

Within these policies, line manages should have training in the signs and symptoms of menopause and how to manage, help and support their employees who may experiencing difficulties. This should include effective use of wellness/sick leave policies.

Other points of good practice include:

  • raising awareness amongst employees
  • providing menopause information sessions and/or a menopause café
  • looking for patterns and sickness which may indicate an employee is struggling with menopause and/or has related women's health issue
    and recognising this is a complex and emotional subject and will require sensitivity to talk about.

Guidance

The menopause and work: guidance for RCN representatives (2020). This publication provides guidance to RCN Reps when working with colleagues going through the menopause. The document discusses symptoms, workplace policies, and recommendations for changes to both work patterns and the work environment. See: The menopause and work: guidance for RCN representatives.

Menopause. RCN guidance for nurses, midwives and health visitors (2020). This publication aims to help all health care professionals gain awareness of what happens to the body during menopause and in the post-menopausal stage, and examines the impact of these changes on women, outlining the options for health after menopause. See: Menopause: RCN guidance for nurses and midwives.

The Cross Government Menopause group has published the following publications on the menopause:

Further resources

Useful links

'Find a Menopause Specialist' service

To mark World Menopause Day, the British Menopause Society launched a UK-wide register of BMS recognised menopause specialists, covering both NHS and private clinics and services. 

The register can be accessed via an online search tool on the BMS website and the interactive map makes it easy to search by geographic location. It contains contact details of each of the recognised specialists across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

See: ‘Find a Menopause Specialist’ service.

You may also be interested in...

British Menopause Society and ITN Productions Industry News announce new programme ‘Menopause: The Change is Here’. To mark World Menopause Day 2021, this news-style programme aims to empower, support and educate women to help provide a better understanding of the menopause transition and its impact, as well as protect their long-term health.

British Menopause Society. Menopause education for nurses

Cross Government Menopause publications

The Cross Government Menopause group has published the following publications on the menopause: