Menopause Action Plans

Menopause Action Plan

Menopause Action Plan

Menopause affects all women at some point in their lives and a Menopause Action Plan is likely to become necessary for most UK businesses in the near future.

Menopause is a natural biological process that all women experience, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age for a woman to undergo menopause transition is 51, although 1% of all women will experience Menopause before the age of 40 (this can occur naturally, without an obvious trigger, or sometimes due to illness or medical treatments, like chemotherapy).

Menopause marks the end of menstrual cycles and is usually diagnosed after 12 months without a menstrual period. A diagnosis does not have to have been made for the Equality Act 2010 to apply to employers. Menopause can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, which may impact women’s performance and well-being at work.

Ten facts about the Menopause and work

  1. Around 80% of women in the UK experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes and sleep disturbances
  2. A 2019 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 59% of menopausal women said that menopause negatively affected them at work.
  3. 1 in 5 women take time off work because of menopausal symptoms
  4. About 1 in 10 women aged 45-55 left their jobs last year due to their symptoms and ultimately the lack of workplace support, according to research supported by the Fawcett Society.
  5. Around 1 million women in the UK use Hormone Replacement Therapy accessed via the NHS
  6. Up to 70% of women in the UK report experiencing anxiety or depression during menopause, according to the British Menopause Society.
  7. A 2016 study revealed that 45% of women in the UK felt that menopause had a negative impact on their work, yet many employers lack formal policies to support menopausal women.
  8. The loss of skilled and experienced workers due to menopausal symptoms can have significant economic implications. The UK government estimates that menopausal women are the fastest-growing workforce demographic.
  9. A survey by Health and Her indicated that 60% of women in the UK believe menopause negatively impacts their relationships.
  10. The UK government’s Women’s Health Strategy, launched in 2021, identified menopause as a key priority, aiming to improve support and services for menopausal women across the country

Why is a Menopause Action Plan necessary?

Women account for nearly half the UK’s workforce and nearly half of those people working are over the age of 50, which means many women will be working through Perimenopause (when a woman has symptoms of Menopause, but their periods have not stopped) and Menopause.

Many women are likely to be managing symptoms whilst working, which means Menopause is a workplace issue, not just a female health issue.

The Labour Party Manifesto pledges to strengthen rights to equal pay and protections from maternity and menopause discrimination and sexual harassment. It also commits to “a New Deal for Working People” which stipulates that employers with 250+ employees will be required to have a menopause action plan.

Menopausal women could also be offered paid time off and working environments with temperature-controlled areas under Labour plans to support the wellbeing of women in the workplace.

What is a Menopause Action Plan?

There are no published legal requirements about what constitutes a Menopause Action Plan that we are currently aware of, however, it will be important to demonstrate that you provide support to create an inclusive environment, where all employees feel valued and understood.

An action plan would outline the steps you commit to take to support your employees through menopause.

You may wish to cover items such as:

  • Communication around Perimenopause and Menopause
  • How you’ll train or help Managers to support workers going through Menopause
  • How you’ll manage employee’s health data confidentiality
  • Reasonable adjustments you may be able to consider
  • Policies that you can review or update e.g. flexible working
  • Environmental adjustments you may be able to make e.g. in temperature controlled areas
  • Health & wellness benefits e.g. EAPs/PMI/Wellness programmes
  • Internal and external sources of information

Can I buy a Menopause Action Plan?

You don’t have to buy a Menopause Action Plan, creating one is a straightforward process, although it can take some time.

We have a Menopause Action Plan Template available for you to adapt for your business and we can provide tailored Plans, specifically for your business.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss arranging a tailored Menopause Action Plan for your business.

Menopause and the Equality Act 2010

Menopause is not a specific protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, however, in accordance with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), “if an employee is disadvantaged and treated less favourably in any way because of their menopause symptoms this could be viewed as discrimination if related to a protected characteristic, for example, age, disability, gender reassignment or sex”.

The following legislation is key to note:

  • Equality Act 2010: legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.
  • Health and safety at Work Act 1974: which states, “An employer must, where reasonably practical, ensure everyone’s health, safety and welfare at work”.

More information about Menopause and the law can be found on the ACAS website: Menopause and the law: Menopause at work.

 

Menopause and reasonable adjustments

The law requires employers to consider making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to support workers who have any impairment which may be a disability. Whether or not someone is Disabled, or whether adjustments are reasonable is only ever a legal decision.

There may be changes that employers can make, on a temporary basis, during the Menopause transition. The first step to consider should be a risk assessment, which the manager should conduct in order to understand how menopausal symptoms might affect the role or work. Free risk assessment templates and guides are available on the HSE website.

You could create a Wellbeing Action Plan, which can identify how individual symptoms may impact a role. It can form a basis of any conversations about changes or adjustments the business may wish to have with an employee.

Examples of common adjustments to support Menopause:

  • Considering changing start times if employees experience disturbed sleep
  • Enabling employees to have regular breaks or increasing the amount of break time available
  • Flexible working practices, such as working from home
  • Adjusting rotas or shift patterns
  • Adjusting uniform requirements or dress policies
  • Providing a portable fan, ensuring access to refreshments and toilet facilities
  • Providing support for clothes to be changed at work
  • Allowing time off to attend medical appointments if they cannot be arranged outside working hours

What should a Menopause Action Plan include?

Any plan should consider reflecting the commitment of the business to supporting, understanding and effective management of Menopause. It should set out what the business is seeking to achieve, such as fostering a health workplace, retaining talent etc.

Core content to consider can be structured into key areas:

Education and awareness

  • Management training: ensuring managers understand Menopause, the symptoms and impacts.
  • Raising awareness: produce and distribute information guides for managers and employees.
  • Subject matter experts: consider inviting experts to share insights and experience, such as healthcare professionals or health coaches

Supportive Workplace Policies

  • Referencing relevant work and management policies, ensuring flexible working, remote work etc can be considered where necessary
  • Updating Leave and absence policies to ensure menopause-related health issues are accommodated appropriately
  • Consider environmental factors and whether to provide access to fans, adjust office temperatures and ensure well-ventilated workspaces to help alleviate symptoms

Wellness Programs

  • Consider how any existing health benefits can be aligned to support Menopause. Many Employee Assistance Providers and Private Medical Insurance providers can offer extensive support materials. If you don’t already have a Benefits advisor, you can contact EAPA or AMII to find a specialist near your business.
  • Offering regular health screenings and facilitating access to medical professionals who can provide advice and treatment for menopause symptoms may help.
  • Promoting stress management techniques and wellness activities such as yoga, meditation and fitness classes to help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Communication

  • Creates safe and confidential channels for employees to discuss their menopause-related concerns without fear of discrimination or embarrassment.
  • Conduct regular surveys to gather feedback on the effectiveness of menopause support initiatives and identify areas for improvement. Feedback gained can be used to refine or enhance your action plan.

Culture

  • Consider appointing menopause champions who can provide peer support, share information and continue to advocate for menopause-friendly policies and practices with the organisation.

Launching a Menopause Action Plan

Implementing a comprehensive Menopause Action Plan is essential for fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace.

By educating employees, providing flexible policies, promoting health and wellness, maintaining open communication and cultivating a supportive culture, any organisation can ensure that all employees feel valued and supported during an important phase of their lives.

Supporting women through the Menopause will help to benefits employees, as well as enhance productivity, engagement and retention within the organisation.

To ensure the success of any Action Plan implementation, close consideration should be given to exactly how and when to communicate the plans with the workforce. Although putting content on an intranet page may comply with changing regulations, it may not drive positive and lasting change across the organisation.

Further sources of information for employees:

 

NHS – information and advice about Menopause

Menopause Matters – information about symptoms and treatment options

Women’s Health Concern – patient support from the British Menopause Society

Daisy Network – support for women experiencing early menopause (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency)

Meg’s Menopause – information, advice and discussion of all things menopause

https://www.balance-menopause.com/ – education and symptoms tracking (run by Newson)

Newson – information about evidence-based treatments and support

Gen-M – campaigning information

https://menopausesupport.co.uk/ – not-for-profit source of information for employers and employees

https://www.themenopausecharity.org/ – not-for-profit source of information for employers and employees

Further sources of information and support for employers:

Clinically-led, CQC accredited commercial source of information, treatment and support

CIPD guide for people professionals

Commercial services supporting employers

Charity providing free resources for employers

Specialist health coaching service

Corporate digital health support

 

 

 

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