Written evidence from Department for Education’s Menopause Network (staff network) [MEW0074]
The Department for Education (DFE) is the UK government department responsible for child protection, education (compulsory, further and higher education), apprenticeships and wider skills in England
We have recently set up a menopause network to offer insight, experience and support on menopause related issues in the workplace
How can businesses factor in the needs of employees going through the menopause?
Businesses should factor in:
- The need for organisations to include in their people engagement surveys, a question about how well supported individuals going through the menopause feel in the workplace
- The need for all organisations to have a menopause workplace policy
- The need for all organisations to have a mechanism for reporting sickness absence due to the symptoms of the menopause
- The need for flexible working, line manger training, teach-ins to create awareness. They should:
- Treat menopause as one would any other illness.
- Encourage conversation about the menopause to break down taboos
- Offer washroom/shower/changing room facilities to help employees feel less self-conscious about their symptoms
- Provide assurances that their career development would not be adversely affected due to ,
- Provide support tools for persons experiencing menopause symptoms / going through the menopause to boost self-esteem and tackle insecurities, issues that might be experienced.
- Give women and persons going through the menopause a voice without fear of being ridiculed/victimised.
- Make the workplace a comfortable and safe space for women / persons going through the menopause to thrive and enjoy their roles.
- The need for employees to have the opportunity to speak in confidence to other colleagues that they feel comfortable with if they do not wish to speak with their line managers. It is important that employees feel they have this option and employers/line managers should recognise this.
- The need to have an awareness that there are not always ‘quick-fix’ support tools available. Menopause symptoms can be experienced for many years. There needs to be assurances by employers and line managers that this would be taken into account, to avoid employees feeling pressurised and a sense of being ‘monitored’
- The need to recognise that menopausal symptoms and/or experiences are not an exhaustive list and different persons could have very different experiences. The support provided should not be one size fits all
How should people who experience the menopause but do not identify as women be supported in relation to menopause and the workplace?
They should be supported by:
- Ensuring language used in all supporting materials and provisions is gender inclusive; referring to women and employees who experience menopause or menopause related discrimination, rather than just women
- They should aim to use language that says both women and employees, rather than just employees, ensures that women specifically feel reassured and protected, while also signalling inclusivity to those that do not identify as women. So, using ‘support for women and employees who experience menopause’ as the phrasing would likely be most inclusive and best received by all parties, as it includes by addition rather than replacement of terms.
- Ensuring the availability of the broader recommended support, for any employee experiencing the menopause or menopause related discrimination, irrespective of their gender identity or presentation
- This means that the support will be inclusive of employees who do not identify as women but who are experiencing the menopause, and of employees who may be experiencing menopause related discrimination via perception, or because of the impact of HRT or workplace transition
- Providing referrals, resources, and further information listings to support employees who may wish to get support for experiencing menopause, while also accessing available support related to HRT/transitioning in the workplace, for example:
- This should help address instances where an issue an employee experiences has intersectional impacts – e.g., where the discrimination is both due to their experience of the menopause and their being transgender while experiencing menopause; or where a young employee experiencing menopause may not be accommodated properly due to perception that only older women experience menopause.
- Clearly communicating that the support and resources available regarding menopause in the workplace are not mandatory to use, but are available to every employee who is impacted by it
- This means that those who would prefer to only get support through trans/HRT related avenues do not feel pressured to make use of menopause support, but those who would like to use menopause specific support feel able to do so