Employers urged to create inclusive menopause policies by health and safety body

Firms need a ‘more holistic view’ on how they support people with symptoms that affect their work, experts say

Businesses need to do more to ensure their workplaces support employees who are going through the menopause, an international health and safety body has said.

The UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said firms should aim to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture, and adopt managerial styles that make those with symptoms of the menopause feel comfortable requesting support.

The call comes as part of IOSH’s response to a parliamentary enquiry into the menopause in the workplace, and includes a number of recommendations for firms.

Dr Karen Michell, an occupational health specialist at IOSH, said the menopause often had physical, mental and emotional effects on individuals and their ability to cope with work.

But, she said: “Very few workplaces and managers are knowledgeable on how to address work-related menopause issues and the preventive role that occupational health and safety can play.”

Michell said employers needed to approach the menopause “with a more holistic view”, putting the spotlight on effective management practices and practical support.

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“As with other health issues, women, and in particular women of ethnic minorities, should feel comfortable being able to discuss their symptoms with line managers and other colleagues and be able to request additional support which helps them in their roles,” she said.

In July this year the Women and Equalities committee launched an enquiry into the lack of support for women going through the menopause.

At the time, Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North and chair of the committee, said that the menopause was ignored in legislation despite “hundreds of thousands of women in the UK” currently going through it.

"It is time to uncover and address this huge issue, which has been left near-invisible for far too long,” she said, adding that “excluding menopausal women from the workplace is detrimental to our economy, our society and our place on the world stage”.

IOSH’s recommendations included that businesses consider whether they can introduce flexible working to cater for the psychosocial needs of menopause-related issues, whether specific risks for individuals going through the menopause are considered in risk assessments, and to develop awareness and training strategies to increase understanding of the menopause and its potential impacts on individuals.