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 in 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 managers and employees on providing 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 line managers with guidance in supporting and managing employees experiencing menopausal symptoms.
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 employee's comfort, attendance, and performance at work. Those experiencing menopausal symptoms should feel confident in discussing their needs with their line manager, to discuss which support and/or reasonable adjustments should be put in place, so they can continue working and play a full part in University life.
As a manager, how do I support someone experiencing menopause symptoms?
In order to facilitate an inclusive and supportive working environment in relation to the menopause, it is expected that you, as their line manager, will be responsible for:
raising awareness among all staff that the University will handle menopause in the workplace sensitively, and with dignity and respect;
the health and safety of your staff and requesting a risk assessment is undertaken for any employee you regard as a concern/risk, having gained their consent;
supporting your staff experiencing menopausal symptoms in the same way as an employee with any ongoing health condition;
treating any conversation with a member of your team confidentially, sensitively and professionally;
documenting key meeting points including any adjustments agreed with the member of staff;
ensuring ongoing dialogue and review dates with the member of staff;
ensuring that all agreed work-place adjustments are adhered to;
liaising with your HR Business Partner/Advisor
One option to support you to structure conversations about putting in place appropriate support is an Agreement on Adjustments between you, as the line manager, and the employee. This is intended to assist you in recording conversations, agree actions and adjustments. Both you and the staff member should retain a copy and this can be uploaded onto iTrent for both the manager and the employee to access. We also request that you forward a copy to your HR Advisor to be kept securely on the employee’s file. This document should be reviewed at least once a year or more frequently as required.
Small changes to an employee’s role or workplace can make a huge difference to the quality of working life for employees experiencing the menopause. When support is adequately provided, it can prevent or reduce levels of sickness absence, productivity dips, and turnover and it can promote wellbeing, engagement levels and loyalty.
Some conditions arising from the menopause may meet the definition of an ‘impairment’ under the Equality Act (2010). Conditions which meet this definition would be considered a disability and therefore you must ensure that consideration is taken to implement reasonable adjustments, where requested. The aim is for you to understand the barriers that the staff member is experiencing and, jointly with that employee, consider solutions to improve or resolve the concern.
When a staff member discloses symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause, it is advisable to carry out an assessment of the staff member’s working conditions and working arrangements. An assessment may include the following:
Review the staff member’s control of workplace temperature and ventilation. This might include having a desktop fan in an office, or locating a workstation near an opening window or away from a heat source;
Consider flexible working hours or shift changes. For example, later start times (if suitable depending on the nature of the role) or flexible breaks might be helpful if the staff member is experiencing sleep disturbance or hot flushes;
Permitting time off for medical appointments;
Provide access to cold drinking water;
Ensure access to washroom facilities and toilets including when travelling or working in temporary locations;
Offering noise-reducing headphones to wear in open plan offices and workspaces;
Allowing short breaks in long meetings and ensuring regular breaks from workstations;
Where uniforms are compulsory, flexibility is helpful. For example, this might include being allowed to remove jackets, wear a hair net instead of a hat, or request extra uniform in cases of excessive sweating;
Where work requires constant standing or prolonged sitting, having access to a rest room/area to sit during work breaks or for employees to go if they are experiencing a hot flush.
If possible, provide a quiet area for the employee to take time out.
Other adjustments that are not listed above could also be considered if deemed reasonable and necessary to alleviate symptoms.
Supporting menopause at work
One in three will experience severe menopausal symptoms and one in four will experience mild menopausal symptoms. The University recognises that everyone is different and therefore it is not feasible to set out a structured set of specific guidelines to follow in these circumstances. If in doubt, please speak to a member of your HR Business Partner & Advisory team.
You must leave it to the employee to raise any concerns. You must not directly ask them if they want to talk about the menopause or perimenopause or suggest that they might be experiencing symptoms. If a member of your team requests to meet with you (or equivalent) about how they are feeling, as a line manager, you should:
have the discussion at the earliest possibility. This meeting must not be cancelled or rearranged if it can be avoided;
allow adequate time for the discussion to occur; be aware that the member of staff may feel embarrassed or be noticeably upset and so it may take some time for them to talk openly;
ask open-ended questions to allow your member of staff to speak freely about their concerns. For example; 'what are the symptoms you are experiencing?' 'How do they manifest themselves in the workplace?' 'What adjustments could you suggest to alleviate these symptoms?'
explore whether they have attended their GP and, if not, recommend they take some professional medical advice via their GP. You can also request to refer the employee to Occupational Health (OH) to seek further guidance and medical advice if required;
be clear on what the member of staff is requesting. It is always best to summarise the meeting before it ends to ensure both of you agree and follow this up in writing with them.
agree actions and how to implement them, including setting time to review how the arrangement is working in practice once implemented (and follow this up in writing via email);
agree if other employees should/are required to be informed of the adjustments and who will inform them.
You are also encouraged to read the guidance produced from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) “A practical guide for people managers” The menopause at work
Please note: If the adjustments that are requested by your staff member or proposed by you impact on the staff member’s terms and conditions of employment (for example, reduced hours and shift changes that will have an impact on pay, change of location/role responsibilities), you must speak to your HR Business Partner or Advisor before agreeing to any change of terms. This is to ensure that the correct procedure and documentation is completed and that the employee is fully aware of the financial or contractual impact of the change.
Where adjustments implemented are unsuccessful or if symptoms become more severe/problematic, you should consider referring the employee to Occupational Health to seek advice and recommendations.
Other support available
There are sources of support available to University employees that you can signpost your staff members, these include:
Menopause Meet Up ( email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.