Discussing menopause in the workplace

In the UK, nearly 5 million cisgender women aged 50 and over are in employment – it is the fastest-growing demographic group of workers. This age group is the most likely to be affected by menopausal symptoms, so employers need to ensure they are supporting this group of their workforce. Talking openly with your employer can be an important first step towards being better supported at work.

How to discuss menopause in the workplace

According to a recent survey, 90% of workers experiencing the menopause said that it had affected their working life. Another report has found that 1 in 10 women have left their jobs due to menopausal symptoms, and many have reduced their hours or not gone for a promotion, due to symptoms.

Despite the challenges faced by many experiencing menopause symptoms, research has shown that we continue to have a better quality of life if we are in employment. However, many still feel uncomfortable talking about symptoms with their colleagues or managers, and there is a lack of knowledge about where to go or what to ask for in terms of help and support.

Here are some tips to support a conversation about menopause in the workplace:

1. Request confidentiality

Request a private meeting with your employer to make them aware of your personal circumstances. Consider your environment and timing to ensure you have privacy and can have an open conversation without distractions or interruptions. Ask for the conversation to be kept confidential.

2. Prepare the points you would like to discuss in advance

Think about any reasonable adjustments or flexibility you may need. You may wish to make some notes about your symptoms, paying attention to how they appear on a bad day, to help you consider some of the accommodations you think might help.

3. Try to be open and direct

Be explicit that you are experiencing the menopause or perimenopause and share how it is affecting you. Your employer may not be familiar with symptoms or understand the impact; they may not even know what menopause is.

4. Provide information

If your employer is not familiar with menopause, signpost them to resources or articles that can help them understand the impact and challenges associated, such as our information page on menopause and mental health.

5. Focus on solutions

Spend time exploring accommodations that can support you to work to your best whilst experiencing menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms. Remember your strengths, and what you bring to work, even on those bad days.

6. Seeking support

Explore any further support available within the workplace. HR departments may offer advice or policies surrounding support for people experiencing the menopause or perimenopause. Many people also find it beneficial to form a peer support group in the workplace, to share experiences and support each other.

7. Follow up

Arrange a time together to follow up any actions, and review any adjustments put into place to ensure they are meaningful and making a positive difference.

Increasingly, workplaces are starting to take the menopause seriously and put policies in place. Over 2,600 employers have signed the ‘Menopause Workplace Pledge’, which is a commitment for employers to actively support colleagues experiencing the menopause.

Need more information?

Menopause and your mental health

Perimenopause and menopause can affect your physical and mental health, find out what steps you can take to look after your wellbeing during this period in your life.

Find out more

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