How Do I Approach My Employer
Discussing menopause in the workplace can be extremely daunting. And often, the sector we work in can make a difference in how management takes our requests on board.
Coming from a Construction background, I know all too well how difficult it can be to discuss issues that affect women during periods, pregnancy and menopause. Hopefully, the law will change soon, and we can begin to feel more confident that we can have some support from the legal system. But in the meantime, we must not forget that we may be covered under the Equality Act 2010 under three protected characteristics: age, sex, and disability. Furthermore, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides safe working conditions.
So how can we approach our employer, and what do we even say to them? Well, I thought I would share some ideas with you that might help the process:-
Some things that may be worth considering before doing this are:-
Just know the facts and the impact menopause can have on women in the workplace.
Keep an open mind and be flexible.
Open lines of communication – don’t focus on the issues – focus on solutions.
Send an email if you are unable to speak directly:
Ask your line manager to review the following:
As your employee, I just wanted to inform you that I am going through menopause. With this in mind, I am struggling with some of the symptoms associated with menopause. Therefore, I wondered if you could review this list and see if we can make some minor adjustments to the workplace. Reviewing this information will make me feel more positive and confident in approaching this season in my life.
HOURS OF WORK
Adjustments where necessary to working patterns – allow flexibility.
Reduce workload if necessary and not work excessively long hours.
Consider a change in shift patterns or being able to swap shifts temporarily.
Later start time and finish time. Are you able to work from home if sleep deprivation impacts you?
Assess your workstation – can it be moved from a heat source that would exacerbate hot flushes? Provision of a desk fan and access to cool water.
Ensure the room is well-ventilated.
Suggest a break-out area if an individual becomes overwhelmed and needs time out/provision of a quiet place or access to a restroom.
Ensure you have access to toilet facilities, primarily on-site and more frequent breaks to go to the toilet.
Make sure sanitary products are available in the toilet facilities. (If not, request them)
If suffering from muscle aches and joint stiffness, move around or stay mobile.
Allow time off to attend medical appointments.
Provide a quiet area to allow for time away from the busy environment.
Any uniforms worn would be assessed for their suitability. Could it be adapted to a different material?
A review should then take place, which would include looking at alternative options for uniforms/PPE.
Limit the time wearing PPE, such as face masks and heavy workwear.
HR/MANAGEMENT (What to request, and what actions to take)
Ask for a Risk Assessment to be implemented.
Suggest relevant support (HR Menopause Policies, Supportive Frameworks, Employee Assistance Programme)
Treat Menopause as an Occupational Health and People Management issue, thus mitigating the potential of a negative impact on the individual and the company – women who feel supported and receive help from management can continue to work well and productively.
Identify and know when support and intervention are required – open up communication. Suggest training in the workplace – training for Line Managers so they understand menopause and how they can support and take the right approach to suit individual needs.
Review existing policies and frameworks and update them if necessary.
Don’t address poor performance without first addressing any health issues.
Getting Senior Leadership Teams on board is essential to implement training and informative presentations.
This list of ideas encourages and inspires you to make a difference in your workplace. You could become a champion or set up a WhatsApp group to promote and support other women.
If you believe that your place of work would benefit from training or a workshop, please direct them to our website at https://www.positive-menopause.com/workplace-menopause/.
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