What can you do if you have severe menopause symptoms at work?

I am in my early 50s and have got very severe menopause symptoms which are exacerbated by all the stress around Covid. My employer doesn’t have a menopause policy and my line manager is not very sympathetic to this kind of thing. How should I approach this at work?
Stressed women

 

Coping with the menopause at work is a really important topic affecting many people; thank you for raising the question as it’s important you shouldn’t feel isolated and suffer in silence…

Do you know what you want to happen and what outcome you’d like at work? You describe ‘very severe symptoms’ – are these physical, emotional, or psychological? Is your line manager aware of the severity of your symptoms?

Employers should support employees with menopausal symptoms in the same way as they would with any other health condition. I’d recommend raising it with HR if you haven’t already.

To start with how you should approach it at work – here are four tips:

1) Start with clarity about what you want

2) Go armed with information. The company is responsible for making reasonable adjustments, of which examples include: clothing adjustments if you wear uniform; being near a window in a warm office or when the thermostat is high; providing fans; allowing for flexi time if sleeplessness is an issue; or buddying up to give confidence if struggling with brain fog.

3) Set time aside to speak with you manager and know your rights. The law is on your side. Has anyone else been through anything similar in the workplace? What was the outcome?

4) Be realistic … it might take time to raise awareness if your organisation has not considered it before.

Have you been to the doctor? What are you personally doing to manage symptoms and are you clear on what’s working and what makes it worse?

Regardless of your organisation’s policies, it’s actually a requirement as per sex and disability discrimination – there have been legal cases. My advice would be to download recent HR advice from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. Here’s a guide on ‘The Menopause at Work’ https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/menopause-guide_tcm18-55426.pdf

The companies I’d advise are Menopause In The Workplace, or getting legal advice on where you stand first. Other helpful links and stats:

https://menopauseintheworkplace.co.uk/menopause-at-work/menopause-and-work-its-important

https://menopauseintheworkplace.co.uk/employment-law/tribunals-employers-best-practice

https://archive.acas.org.uk/menopause

https://www.tuc.org.uk/menopause-work

https://www.som.org.uk/sites/som.org.uk/files/Guidance-on-menopause-and-the-workplace.pdf

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26857886

https://www.forthwithlife.co.uk/blog/menopause-in-the-workplace

Good luck!

*Liz Sebag‑Montefiore is ​Director and Co‑Founder of 10Eighty, a career transitions organisation. Email: [email protected]



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