The Reasonable Adjustments Every Employer Should Make To Support Menopausal Women At Work

Do you have policies in place to help employees with menopausal symptoms?

Menopause and perimenopause are natural biological processes and can be considered a disability to many as the symptoms are so wide ranging and can have a huge impact on people’s day-to-day lives, especially at work.

Recently, The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued guidance to explain the legal obligations employers have for their employees who are going through the menopause. Employers face being sued if they do not make "reasonable adjustments" for menopausal women in the workplace, and the EHRC encourages employers to adapt their policies and practices accordingly”.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is “a biological stage in a woman’s life that occurs when she stops menstruating and reaches the end of her natural reproductive life.”

Perimenopause means "around menopause" and refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.

Menopause starts around the ages of 45 and 55, but perimenopause can start for people in their late thirties, and both come with a large variation of symptoms. Common symptoms for menopause and perimenopause include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Brain fog
  • Incontinence
  • Fatigue

How menopause impacts work:

Research shows that two thirds of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 have experienced menopausal symptoms at work and it’s had a negative impact. According to the research, 79% had trouble concentrating, 49% were less patient with those around them, and 46% felt physically less able to carry our tasks. This has had further impact as many have not been able to attend work due to the severity of the symptoms and one in ten women, left the workforce completely due to symptoms.

UKIM’s Lead Occupational Health Advisor and Menopause Champion, Laura Sharp, explains what extra measures and reasonable adjustments can be made in a workplace to help those experiencing symptoms…

Reasonable adjustments are actions that can be suggested and implemented to ensure that a person can remain at work and manage their condition. There are many ways in which adjustments can be made, and it’s easy with the help of an occupational health team. Here are some examples:

  • A change to work uniform - a more breathable material, desk fans, desk moved to be near air conditioning to manage hot flushes
  • Adjusted start times to manage fatigue and insomnia as mornings may feel more difficult after a lack of sleep
  • Extra time to complete work assignments - brain fog may cause cognitive issues and memory loss
  • Ensuring quick toilet access and understanding if incontinence is causing an issue - no questions asked if an individual needs to get changed or to step out of a meeting
  • Mood swings can cause difficulty at work as this may spill over to work colleagues - support conversations about acceptable behaviour but also understanding uncontrollable loss of temper
  • Workload and feeling overwhelmed - understanding around an individual not feeling able to do things as quickly as they previously could
  • Loss of confidence - one to one meeting with managers to discuss the positives.

It’s also important that there’s open conversations and forums surrounding menopause, as that can offer emotional support and make people more comfortable talking about it; this is often the first positive step towards accessing the correct support.”

Angela Evans, Head of Occupational Health Operations shares how UKIM can help:

"Simply making a referral can support your employees by undertaking a thorough assessment of their symptoms and the impact on their work, and providing clear and evidenced advice on adjustments that the employer can consider. At UKIM, our goal is to help staff and their health - making sure that they're productive and fit for work".