Should you consider a 'menopause policy' at work?

Without it, businesses are warned they could lose valuable talent

Should you consider a 'menopause policy' at work?

A Birmingham- and London-based nightclub has pledged to address stigma and prejudice surrounding menopause in the workplace - and it is encouraging other businesses to commit to it as well. The Night Owl is an independent nightclub that opened in 2015 and is the first-ever purpose-built Northern Soul and Motown club.

In a statement, the nightclub said even though they are not legally required to protect employees undergoing menopause, they want to ensure an inclusive and supporting working environment for all staff.

Menopause symptoms can vary greatly between individuals, but they commonly include hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, dizziness, fatigue, memory loss, depression, mood swings, panic attacks, insomnia, headaches, reduced concentration, and heavy periods.

The company's policy handbook acknowledges these symptoms and allows employees to speak to their managers to ensure that side effects are addressed as an ongoing health issue.

"The menopause is a natural part of every woman's life. It isn't always an easy transition and can be a significant issue in the workplace for those affected. Each symptom has the potential to affect an employee's comfort and performance at work," said Patricia Colden, specialist from Burley Law who provides services for The Night Owl, in a statement.

"We know that implementation of this policy is the right thing to do for The Night Owl's current and future team members."

In relation to the rollout of their menopause policy, they are urging other businesses across the United Kingdom to issue similar ones as well to address the stigma and prejudice surrounding it in the workplace.

"Without these types of policies in place, businesses risk losing valuable employees whose maturity and experience are key to their teams and departments. They must act now."

Read more: Menopause leave: Should HR consider it?

In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a menopause policy for City Hall employees back on International Women's Day.

The policy includes the enabling of temperature-controlled areas, as well as flexible adjustment on workdays, including breaks for severe symptoms or time to attend medical appointments.

"Employers have a responsibility to create truly inclusive workplaces and part of that means ensuring there is an understanding of the menopause and how it can affect staff, and challenging the taboos surrounding the subject, which all too often prevent people from getting the support they need," said Khan in a statement.

"I am a proud feminist and strongly believe that women of all ages deserve to feel welcomed and accepted at work."

The city hall policy was created in conjunction with the public service union UNISON, which described it as a "bold" and "supportive" policy.

"Good employers want to ensure the best possible working environment. Women must be able to do their jobs in comfort and not feel stigmatised either," said UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea in a statement.

"Flexible working can make a real difference. Employers must also be careful not to penalise women for taking more time off sick if it's down to the menopause."

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