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Breaking menopause bias at work

Last updated on 7 Mar 2022

On International Women’s day we mark how the HRA is leading the way to recognise the wellbeing needs of staff experiencing menopause.

In November 2020, we became the first arms’ length body of the Department of Health and Social Care to introduce a menopause at work policy.

Since then we’ve also trained menopause champions who will provide support and information to employees and managers, as well raising awareness of the menopause within the wider organisation.

Historically, the menopause has been seen as something of a taboo subject, but thanks to many high-profile celebrities and public figures candidly discussing it, this is changing for the better.

We recognise that people experiencing the menopause may need additional consideration, support, and adjustments to help with associated symptoms before, during or after menopause.

‘The menopause affects half our workforce. One in four will have debilitating symptoms affecting their work, and most won’t tell their manager. We are missing something if we don’t try to plug this gap and support our staff to thrive.

‘These days, we are actually only about half-way through our life at the menopause stage, and at the younger end are only half-way through our working life too. It’s a rebirth in some ways; an opportunity to step into a new chapter, affirm our worth and increase our influence at work.’

Lou Silver, HRA Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Manager

'The menopause is a health and wellbeing concern for staff, and it is important that everyone is aware that menopausal symptoms can affect colleagues at any time. We developed our menopause at work policy collaboratively working with HR, Unison, and the LGBTQ+ staff-led interest group and it forms part of our suite of HR equalities policies. It aims to ensure that people are adequately supported throughout what can be a very difficult time of life.’

Daniel Younghusband, HRA HR Business Partner

The menopause is a transition stage in life, which each person experiences differently. Changes in hormones can lead to a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. It does not only affect women, trans and non-binary people may experience menopausal symptoms naturally or pseudo-menopausal symptoms relating to hormone therapy treatment.

The menopause can happen naturally and gradually, at any age, or as a result of surgery or cancer treatment.

Some research studies have suggested that symptoms may be more prevalent and severe amongst Black ethnic groups. Disabled people or those with pre-existing health conditions may find the menopause can aggravate existing symptoms.

The menopause is a transition stage in life, which each person experiences differently. Changes in hormones can lead to a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. It does not only affect women, trans and non-binary people may experience menopausal symptoms naturally or pseudo-menopausal symptoms relating to hormone therapy treatment.

The menopause can happen naturally and gradually, at any age, or as a result of surgery or cancer treatment.

Some research studies have suggested that symptoms may be more prevalent and severe amongst Black ethnic groups. Disabled people or those with pre-existing health conditions may find the menopause can aggravate existing symptoms.

Whatever an individual’s experience, the menopause can affect every area of their life, including in the workplace.

At the HRA we want to provide an inclusive and supportive working environment for all staff. Our Menopause at Work Policy and menopause champions are part of this.

As part of the policy staff can get support tailored to them which might include temporary changes to duties, such as undertaking fewer high-visibility work task like formal presentations and client meetings or increased breaks during the working day and enhanced flexibility around attending menopause related medical appointments.

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