Support & well-being
Support for Working Women experiencing the Menopause
The University is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment to enhance the wellbeing of all employees. The menopause is a natural part of ageing for women.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure all employees know what the menopause can involve for women, can have supportive conversations and are aware of the University’s menopause policy, supported by Human Resources and Occupational Health.
This policy applies to all University staff.
The University recognises that women experiencing menopause may have additional needs relating to their wellbeing at work and will seek to support women during this change in their lives.
Women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms at work are encouraged to discuss any support needs with their line manager.
The University wishes to support women experiencing menopausal symptoms at work and will accommodate reasonable adjustments to the working environment and working patterns where it is possible to do so.
The menopause (or ‘change of life’) is marked by changes in the hormones and the ending of menstruation (when a woman’s periods stop for 12 consecutive months). For most women it happens between the ages of 45 and 55, although a minority of women experience it in their 30s or earlier. In the UK the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 52, however, this can be earlier or later due to surgery, illness or other reasons.
Most women with symptoms have at least two or three years of ‘hormonal chaos’ as their oestrogen levels decline before the last period, although for some this can go on for five or more years. This is called the perimenopause. During this time menstrual periods become less frequent, the odd period is missed and then they stop altogether. Women are said to be postmenopausal any time after their last period. However, a small minority still have hot flushes in their eighties.
Post menopause is the time after menopause has occurred, starting from when a woman has not had a period for twelve consecutive months.
Every woman’s experiences are different. Some may experience one or two symptoms which are very mild, and others may have more severe and debilitating symptoms.
The most common symptoms which are likely to have an impact in the workplace are:
• Hot flushes (20-25 of women%)
• Night sweats (sleep disturbance)
• Low mood and/or feeling anxious (including anxiety attacks)
• Aches and pains
• Tiredness and a lack of energy
• Dry skin and eyes
• Urinary problems including recurrent infections
• Vaginal dryness (and loss of interest in sex)
• Heavy periods (including longer and irregular)
Examples of reasonable adjustments that can be made:
• Flexible working arrangement for those experiencing debilitating symptoms
• Flexibility around taking breaks
• Flexibility around attending relevant medical appointments
• If uniforms are provided, to provide additional uniforms to allow the ability to change clothing throughout the day and access to washroom facilities
• Adjustments for temperature and ventilation. including provision of desk fans to allow the employee to control the temperature at their desks or moving office/desk
Roles and Responsibilities
Members of staff:
All staff are responsible for:
• Taking a personal responsibility to look after their health
• Being open and honest in conversations with managers/HR and Occupational Health
• If a member of staff is unable to speak to their manager or if they do not feel they are being supported, they can speak to the HR representative for their area or their Union representative
• Understanding what reasonable adjustments can be made in the workplace
• Familiarise themselves with the menopause policy
• Be open and willing to have discussions about menopause symptoms, appreciating the personal nature and confidentiality of the conversation. Also treating the member of staff sensitively
• Use the policy when agreeing suitable adjustments with the employee and any support required
• Record agreed adjustments and actions to be implemented
• Ensure ongoing dialogue and review meetings with the employee
• Agree with member of staff if other colleagues should be informed about any adjustments that have been agreed (even if the reason is not disclosed)
• Seek additional advice from Occupational health where necessary
• If adjustments are unsuccessful then the manager can contact HR or refer to Occupational Health
• Carry out a holistic assessment of individuals, providing advice and guidance
• Provide support and guidance to HR and managers in determining and agreeing reasonable adjustments
• Monitor referrals due to menopause symptoms and provide additional support/advise if appropriate
• Support and guide managers in dealing with conversations around symptoms associated with menopause
• Develop a support group for staff experiencing the menopause transition
Employee Assistance Programme, (EAP):
• Provide access to 24/7 telephone counselling and advice for all members of staff