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Menopause, menstrual health and menstruation in the workplace

Menopause, menstrual health and menstruation are issues that affect half of the work force, and can severely affect people’s work life. This area of employment rights is swiftly gaining attention, especially as today’s female workers are retiring later and staying in employment into their later years.

In April 2022 the Fawcett Society surveyed employees in the UK and found that 1 in 10 who were working when the menopause started, left their jobs because of the symptoms. 77% found symptoms ‘very difficult’, with 73% experiencing brain fog. The impact of this on workplaces is clear, and changes to working practices are needed to ensure that those experiencing issues with menopause and menstruation, have the support and protection they need in the workplace.

New Standards for Employers

On 2 June 2023 the British Standards Institute (BSI) published a new standard on the topic, intended to help employers develop good practices and to help employers support and retain employees experiencing issues because of menopause or menstruation.

So what do the standards suggest for employers who are looking to use best practice to support their employees? Here are our top three take aways from the standards, that employers could be implementing now to get ahead of the curve on supporting women in the workplace:.

1. Supportive Workplace Cultures

The first step for an employer should be to consider the workplace culture in their organisation. Is it inclusive, and a safe space? Would a person experiencing menopause feel comfortable bringing this information to their manager and requesting support?

Most employers would like to think that the answer to this is yes, however the stigma associated with menopause particularly, but also with menstruation, can make this a very difficult topic for employees to feel that they can raise. It is important for an employer to check in on the culture, and ensure that if there are conversations about these topics, they are supportive, and that there are systems in place whereby people can bring problems and concerns to the attention of their managers.

Training for managers and employees is a good starting point, as it helps to open up the conversation and remove some of the stigma associated with menopause and menstruation.

Lucy Densham Brown

Solicitor

View profile

+44 118 960 4655

Menopause, menstrual health and menstruation are issues that affect half of the work force, and can severely affect people’s work life.

2. Physical Workplaces

Employees experiencing menopause or menstruation often experience physical symptoms, which can be debilitating and sometimes embarrassing. A good practice for employers is to consider their workplaces and the facilities available to their employees. Employers could start by asking these basic questions:

Do we have sanitary bins in all toilets, and accessible sanitary products?

Do we have spaces where employees can shower and change if required?

Can employees change the temperature they are working in? Can they open windows, or have personal fans or heaters been provided?

Can uniforms or PPE be changed (if used) to make it more flexible and comfortable?

3. Flexible Working

Employees experiencing issues with menopause or menstruation may require changes to their working patterns to accommodate this. For example they might need flexible hours, or the ability to condense work to be able to take shorter days. They may need to work from home more often, or have time off for related appointments.

Employers should discuss these with each employee, as not all employees will experience symptoms in the same way. What works for one employee, may well not be suitable for another employee, and it is best practice to ensure that each employee is considered properly, rather than trying to find a one-size-fits-all answer.

If you would like some advice or guidance about menopause and menstruation in the workplace, or would like to arrange a training session for your staff, please do reach out to our employment team.

About this article

Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Lucy Densham Brown

Solicitor

View profile

+44 118 960 4655

About this article

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