The University is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for everyone who works here. This guidance has been designed to support employees at the University who are experiencing difficulties in their work and/or personal life brought on and/or exacerbated by menopause related symptoms. The University wants everyone to understand what menopause is, and to be able to talk about it openly, without fear of embarrassment. This guidance aims to raise awareness of the menopause, highlighting that this is not just an issue for those going through the menopause.
These are guidelines for all employees on seeking and receiving the right support to manage menopausal symptoms at work.
This guidance aims to:
Raise awareness of the symptoms which are widely linked to the menopause;
Normalise the conversation about the menopause and improve the level of support and information provided;
Provide employees with guidance about the support that they can seek from their line manager if they are experiencing menopausal symptoms which affect them at work.
The guidance refers to employees experiencing menopause related symptoms. Please note that experiences and perceptions of the menopause may differ in relation to age, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation protected characteristics.
The menopause could be a natural stage of life for many and usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, although some can experience this earlier or later in life (this includes cis women, trans men and non-binary people). Whilst it is acknowledged that not everyone will experience menopausal symptoms, supporting those that do will improve their experience at work. The menopause typically lasts between four and eight years. However, each individual's experience will differ. Perimenopause, or menopause transition, may begin several years before menopause and may be triggered by an unrelated surgical procedure.
While symptoms vary greatly between individuals, they commonly include:
Recurrent urinary tract infections;
Joint stiffness, aches and pains;
Reduced concentration; and
Each of these symptoms can affect an individual’s comfort, attendance, and performance at work.
Talking menopause at work
Many employees do not disclose their menopausal symptoms at work and many take time-off work because of the menopause but do not tell their employer of the real reason for their absence. The reasons for this are widely due to the fact the employee feels that:
their symptoms are personal/private;
the symptoms are embarrassing, or they would find it uncomfortable to disclose the reason with their manager;
they don’t know their manager well enough;
they don’t feel comfortable disclosing it to their male or younger manager.
At the University, we aim to foster an open and inclusive environment where employees can seek support in relation to the menopause and know that this information will be treated sensitively and confidentially. Line managers can seek further guidance from our Menopause Guidance for Managers in order to understand how they can support their staff members who have disclosed menopausal symptoms and/or concerns relating to the menopause.
If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, you should feel confident in discussing your needs with your line manager (or trusted colleague). For example, you are encouraged to speak with your line manager about your symptoms to discuss which support and/or reasonable adjustments can be put in place to enable you to continue working and play a full part in University life.
If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are having an adverse impact on your personal and/or working life, it is recommended that you seek support from your GP in the first instance as they will provide advice on available treatment options and recommended work adjustments.
How can I seek support about the menopause?
You are encouraged to inform your line manager if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms at an early stage to ensure that these are treated as an ongoing health issue rather than as individual instances of ill health in line with the University’s [Managing Sickness, Supporting Staff Policy]. Early notification and disclosure of this information will also help your line manager to understand the most appropriate way to support your individual needs. For example, there may be a separate area within the department where a member of staff can retreat to if they are feeling unwell or having a hot flush.
If you feel that you cannot talk directly to your line manager about the menopause, you may find it helpful to have an initial discussion with a trusted colleague or another manager instead. You can also raise any concerns about the menopause with your HR Business Partner or Advisor, a trade union representative, a Wellbeing Champion, or with the Safety Health, & Employee Wellbeing (SHEW) team.
You can also seek support from the University’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
There is a University Menopause Meetup Group who meet regularly to informally discuss matters relating to the menopause, sharing anecdotal experiences and advice on support available to you. If you are interested in finding out more about this group, please email Marcia Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will confirm when the next meeting will take place and provide an overview of what to expect.
What should I say when I speak to my line manger about the menopause?
When you are considering having a discussion with your line manager about the menopause and how it is affecting you, you may wish to consider the following:
consider the symptoms that you are experiencing and how you feel they are affecting your performance and/or attendance at work;
think about what adjustments/changes to your role would help alleviate your symptoms and how you feel these can be implemented within your role (including any advice that you may have received from your GP). This may include a change to your working environment (i.e. being seated closer to a window or near to a fan) or a change to your working arrangements (i.e. later start time or other flexible working arrangements);
provide some real-life scenarios you are facing to help your line manager to understand how the menopause is affecting your work. For example, you are experiencing night sweats which are preventing you from sleeping and therefore you are tired at work, making it difficult to concentrate.
Additional external support
Some external sources of help and support for employees and managers include:
Menopause matters which provides information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options;
The Daisy Network charity, which provides support for women experiencing premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency; and
The Menopause Café, which provides information about events where people gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss the menopause.