Ending the taboo: Why we’ve launched a menopause policy
30 October 2019
Did you know 8 in 10 menopausal women in the UK are in work?
Yet sadly, most women in work don’t feel comfortable talking about menopause-related health problems with their boss.
That’s why at Exemplar Health Care, we’ve launched a menopause policy to support our 2,800-strong workforce.
Set out over 11 pages, our new policy sets out guidelines to help managers support women at work – and ensure women colleagues feel confident to discuss it.
“We’ve launched the guide because we want to encourage our colleagues to talk about the menopause and to do our part to raise awareness, offer support and a practical understanding of the challenges surrounding the menopause,” said Andrea Stoddart, Exemplar’s HR Manager.
No more embarrassment
Menopause should not be taboo or ‘hidden’. We want everyone to understand what the menopause is and to be able to talk about it openly, without embarrassment.
The menopause isn’t just a women’s issue: men should be aware of it too.
For most women menopause begins between the ages of 45 and 55. Here at Exemplar, close to 4 in 10 of our women colleagues are within this age range.
Menopause can be complicated, as not every woman will notice every symptom, or even need help or support. However, three quarters of women do experience some symptoms - and a quarter could be classed as severe.
Symptoms, both physical and psychological, can include poor quality sleep, hot flushes, poor concentration, headaches, panic attacks, heavy or light periods, anxiety, and loss of confidence.
As every woman is different, it is not feasible to lay out a structured set of specific, set-in-stone rules.
Exemplar’s Menopause guidelines state that colleagues are responsible for being willing to help and support their colleagues, and to understand any work adjustments their colleagues may receive as a result of menopausal symptoms.
If colleagues feel unsupported by their line manager, they can speak to HR.
Meanwhile, all line mangers should familiarise themselves with the menopause policy and guidance.
Ready and willing
They need to be ready and willing to have open discussions about it - while appreciating the personal nature of the conversation.
Where work adjustments are unsuccessful, or if symptoms are proving more problematic, line managers can refer their colleagues to our Occupational Health team, who will assist and assess the colleague’s situation and symptoms.
This policy is just the first step towards ensuring a better environment for women going through the menopause.
But we hope it’ll make a difference – and help make menopause embarrassment a thing of the past.