We are committed to providing an inclusive and supportive working environment for everyone who works here. This guidance aims to raise awareness of perimenopause and menopause. It has been designed to support employees who are experiencing difficulties in their work and/or personal life brought on or exacerbated by menopause-related symptoms. It’s important that everyone understands what menopause is and can talk about it openly, without fear or embarrassment.
This guidance aims to:
raise awareness of the symptoms which are widely linked to the menopause
normalise the conversation about menopause and perimenopause 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 is a natural stage of life 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 it is acknowledged not everyone will experience menopausal symptoms, supporting those who do will improve their experience at work. Menopause typically lasts between four and eight years. However, each individual's experience will differ. Menopause can also be triggered by an unrelated surgical procedure. Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is likely to begin several years before menopause. While symptoms vary greatly between individuals, they commonly include (but are not limited to):
anxiety, panic attacks
recurrent urinary tract infections
joint stiffness, aches and pains
Each of these symptoms can affect an employee's comfort, attendance and performance at work. Those experiencing menopausal symptoms should be able to feel confident discussing their needs with their line manager. Together they can 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.
How to support a staff member experiencing menopause symptoms
In order to promote an inclusive and supportive working environment regarding menopause, as a line manager you are responsible for:
raising awareness among your staff that the University will handle menopause in the workplace sensitively, and with dignity and respect
the health and safety of your staff − requesting a risk assessment is done for any employee you regard as a concern or risk (with their consent)
supporting staff experiencing menopausal symptoms in the same way you would support 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 or Advisor
One option to help you structure conversations about putting in place appropriate support is an agreement for adjustments between you, as the line manager, and the employee. This is intended to help you record conversations and agree actions and adjustments. Both you and your staff member should retain a copy − it can be uploaded onto iTrent for both of you 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. It can also help to promote wellbeing, engagement levels and loyalty.
Some conditions arising from the perimenopause or 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 consideration is taken to implement reasonable adjustments, where requested. The aim is for you to understand the barriers the staff member is experiencing and, jointly with that employee, consider solutions to improve or resolve the concern.
When a member of staff discloses symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause, it’s advisable to carry out an assessment of their working conditions and working arrangements. An assessment may include the following:
reviewing their 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
considering 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 they are experiencing sleep disturbance or hot flushes
allowing time off for medical appointments
ensuring 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
where work requires constant standing or prolonged sitting, having access to a rest room or area to sit during work breaks
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 people will experience severe menopausal symptoms and one in four will experience mild menopausal symptoms. We recognise everyone is different and therefore it’s not feasible to set out a structured set of specific guidelines to follow in these circumstances. If in doubt, please speak to your HR Business Partner or 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 to talk about 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 they may feel embarrassed or be noticeably upset, 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 seen their GP and, if not, recommend they take some professional medical advice via their GP. You can also request to refer them to Occupational Health (OH) to seek further guidance and medical advice if required
be clear on what they are requesting. It’s 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 by email)
agree if other employees should or 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’.
Please note, if the adjustments requested by your staff member or proposed by you impact on their 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 the correct procedure and documentation is completed and 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 or problematic, you should consider referring the employee to Occupational Health to seek advice and recommendations.
Other support available
There is support available to University employees where you can signpost your staff members, these include:
Menopause Meet Up − email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also some external sources of help and support for employees and managers which you may find useful:
Menopause matters, which provides information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment option
The Daisy Network charity, which provides support for women experiencing premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency
The Menopause Café, which provides information about events where people gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss the menopause