1.5 million people with a disability are going through menopause in the workplace
An extraordinary 20 per cent of people leave their job because of the menopause, reports the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). It found that three in five going through the menopause at work feel they can’t discuss it.
Very little is known in the workplace about how the menopause affects people with a disability, which accounts for 1.5 million workers in the UK. Even less is understood about working people who identify as non-binary and transgender who are going through menopause.
“There is a huge number of women who are being completely under-served,” says Lesley Salem, the founder of Over the Bloody Moon, an organisation offering medical support, education and training for menopause management in the workplace. “People with disabilities can experience the menopause really intensely, particularly hot flushes.”
Scope, the disability charity, has been involved with a recent study about cerebral palsy (CP) and the menopause. The study, the first of its kind, was carried out by researchers at the University of Birmingham. It examined from a social perspective how the menopause affects British women with CP. The scientists who undertook this ethnographic study asked participants in detail about their sexual and reproductive health including symptoms and the type of healthcare they received. The responses were shared with nurses and medics with an aim to improve healthcare for women with CP, including those transitioning through menopause.
6 ways to support an employee going through the menopause
1 Organise a meeting to see what reasonable adjustments can be made to their schedule, workload or environment.
2 Signpost them to support such as their GP, other clinician, psychologist or counsellor
3 Demonstrate empathy by actively listening and reassuring the person that what they are experiencing is normal and commonly associated with the menopause.
4 Make notes and share these after the meeting so they have a record – they might not be in the right frame of mind to capture all the points.
5 Agree on a regular review time to check in and see how well these adjustments are going.
6 Consider having menopause awareness workshops and collective events so those transitioning through menopause feel heard and able to talk about their experiences. It can be a very positive time of life.
“My hope is that every company has menopause guidance and that all employees actually read it,” says Lesley Salem, who believes menopause policies should be mandatory.
“This would recognise the very real impact menopause can have on some, and detail allowances such as additional days of leave.”