We are committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for everyone who works here. This guidance has been designed to support employees who are experiencing difficulties in their work and/or personal life brought on and/or exacerbated by menopause related symptoms. It's important that everyone understands what menopause is and can talk about it openly, without fear of embarrassment. This guidance aims to raise awareness of the menopause, highlighting it's not just an issue for those going through it.
These are guidelines for all employees looking to seek and receive the right support to manage menopausal symptoms at work. The 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
This guidance refers to employees experiencing menopause-related symptoms. Please note, experiences and perceptions of the menopause may differ in relation to age, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation protected characteristics.
What menopause is
Menopause is 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).
While not everyone will experience menopausal symptoms, supporting those that do will improve their experience at work. Menopause typically lasts between four and eight years. However, each individual's experience will differ. Perimenopause, or menopause transition, can begin several years before menopause. Perimenopause and menopause can also be triggered early by a surgical procedure or cancer treatment.
While symptoms vary greatly between individuals, they commonly include:
anxiety and panic attacks
recurrent urinary tract infections
joint stiffness, aches and pains
Each of these symptoms can affect a person's comfort, attendance and performance at work.
Talking about menopause at work
Many employees do not disclose their menopausal symptoms at work and may take time off work without telling their employer the real reason for their absence. The reasons for this are widely due to the fact the employee feels that:
their symptoms are personal or 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). 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 advisable to seek support from your GP. They will provide advice on the treatment options available to you and recommended work adjustments.
How you can seek support
If you're experiencing menopausal symptoms, it's advisable to inform your line manager at an early stage. This will ensure 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). Disclosing this information early on will also help your line manager to support your individual needs in the most appropriate way. For example, there may be a separate area within the department you can go to if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms and feeling unwell.
If you don't feel comfortable talking directly to your line manager, 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 our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
We have a University Menopause Meetup Group who meet regularly to informally talk about menopause, share experiences and give advice on the support available to you. If you're interested in finding out more about this group, please email Marcia Martin firstname.lastname@example.org. She will confirm when the next meeting will take place and provide an overview of what to expect.
What to discuss with your line manger about menopause
If you are considering having a discussion with your line manager about menopause and how it is affecting you, it's a good idea to:
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 or 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 (for example being seated closer to a window or near to a fan) or a change to your working arrangements (such as a 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. Such as 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 provides information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options
The Daisy Network charity provides support for women experiencing premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency
The Menopause Café provides information about events where people gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss the menopause