Menopause and the workplace

pool of water

The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age as a woman's estrogen levels decline.

Studies have shown that menopause symptoms can have a significant impact on attendance and performance in the workplace. 

With our population now living longer, working longer, and with so many women working in the NHS, it's vital that staff are supported to stay well and thrive in the workplace.

Menopause is not just a female issue, it's an organisational issue.  All managers need to know about it and how they can support their staff.  Awareness on this topic is fundamental and reducing the stigma attached to it is vital so that more people will talk openly about it. 

  • There are 3.5 million women over 50 in the workplace.
  • There are just under one million women working in the NHS (960,000)
  • In the UK, the average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51.
  • Around one in a 100 women experience menopause before age 40.
  • Three out of four women experience symptoms, one in four could experience serious symptoms.

Improving the workplace environment

Acas has published Menopause at work guidance to help employers and managers support their staff. It includes tips for workers on how to raise any concerns and good practice guidance for employers to help manage menopause at work. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Let's talk menopause’ resource provides managers with tools on how to effectively support women going through the menopause at work.

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine's (FOM) Guidance on menopause and the workplace and infographic highlights that nearly eight out of ten menopausal women are in work. FOM also found that the majority of women are unwilling to disclose menopause related health problems to their managers.  The guidance offers practical guidance on how to improve workplace environments. 

What are NHS trusts doing?

Our menopause and the workplace webinar features Suzanne Banks, chief nurse from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, talking about how she developed and implemented a menopause strategy so that staff going through the menopause at work were supported. You can read more about Sherwood's work in the case study below. Alex Watson, HR business partner and health and wellbeing lead from Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, also shares the practical steps the trust took to support staff.


After recognising that staff sickness absences were often related to menopause symptoms, Sherwood Forest Hospital Foundation Trust committed to developing and implementing a menopause strategy so that all staff going through the menopause were supported. Since launching the strategy, referrals into occupational health now include menopause and stress/anxiety, and the age of a female staff member is considered at triage to give staff the correct support. Read about the challenges and the outcomes in the full case study.

Watch the video for an overview of the project.

 

 

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trustcreated menopause guidance and a staff facilities map so staff could see what was available to them at work.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has an informative menopause factsheet to support employees.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust created an information leaflet for staff which directly links into its overall health and wellbeing strategy and improving working lives policies. The trust has also created videos in partnership with Business in the Community to further support staff and managers with the menopause in the workplace. Take a look at the Guide for managers video and the Guide for employees video.

For more information on the work that Belfast is doing, contact Samantha.Whann@belfasttrust.hscni.net.

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust has created menopause guidance and andropause guidance for employees and line managers to support staff who are experiencing issues, creating an environment where staff feel confident to raise concerns, instigate conversations and ask for reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Further reading

  • The Cross Government Menopause Network has recently created menopause guidance that has been developed in partnership through a cross government menopause steering group. The colleague and manager toolkit includes elements which allows personal and subjective discussion between the manager and employee.

  • In July 2017, Professor Jo Brewis et al, co-authored the evidence-based research report The effects of menopause transition on women’s economic participation in the UK which recommends changing organisational cultures, compulsory equality and diversity training, providing specialist advice, tailored absence policies and flexible working patterns for mid-life women. 

Get in touch

If your organisation has any helpful resources on menopause and the workplace, please email healthandwellbeing@nhsemployers.org.

 

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