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Menopause guidance

Guidelines for all employees on providing and receiving the right support to manage menopausal symptoms at work.

Overview

Brief guidelines for all employees on providing and receiving the right support to manage menopausal symptoms at work.

Contents include

  • Background
  • Available support
  • Reasonable adjustments 

Who should read this policy

  • All staff

Policy

 

1. Introduction

1.1. UCL aims to facilitate an open, understanding working environment. UCL  wants everyone to understand what menopause is, and to be able to talk about it openly, without embarrassment. This is not just an issue for those going through menopause, everyone should be aware of its impact. 

1.2. These are brief guidelines for all employees on providing and receiving the right support to manage menopausal symptoms at work.

2. Background

2.1. Menopause is a natural event in many women's* lives during which they stop having periods and experience hormonal changes such as a decrease in oestrogen levels. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and typically lasts between four and eight years. However, each woman's experience will differ, and menopausal symptoms can begin earlier or later. Perimenopause, or menopause transition, may begin several years before menopause and maybe triggered by an unrelated surgical procedure for example. 

2.2. While symptoms vary greatly, they commonly include:

  •  Hot flushes;
  •  Night sweats;
  •  Insomnia;
  •  Anxiety;
  •  Dizziness;
  •  Fatigue;
  •  Memory loss;
  •  Depression;
  •  Headaches;
  •  Recurrent urinary tract infections;
  •  Joint stiffness, aches and pains;
  •  Reduced concentration; and
  •  Heavy periods.

2.3. Each of these symptoms can affect an employee's comfort and performance at work. Those experiencing menopausal symptoms should feel confident in discussing their needs, to ask for support and for any reasonable adjustments to be put in place, so they can continue working and play a full part in University life.

3. Available support

3.1. If menopausal symptoms are affecting an employee’s wellbeing, medical advice should be sought from a GP in the first instance (in accordance with FOM and NICE guidelines). Employees may also request an appointment with UCL’s Workplace Health Department

3.2. Employees are encouraged to inform their line manager if they are experiencing menopausal symptoms at an early stage to ensure that these are treated as an ongoing health issue rather than as individual instances of ill health. Early notification will also help line managers to understand the most appropriate way to support an employee's individual needs. 

3.3. One option for structuring conversations about putting in place appropriate support is the UCL Agreement of Consistent Treatment (ACT). This is intended to assist in recording conversations, agreed actions and adjustments. Employees who do not wish to discuss the issue with their direct line manager may find it helpful to have an initial discussion with a trusted colleague or another manager instead. They can also raise the issue with their HR Business Partner, a trade union representative, or with Workplace Health

3.4. A variety of initiatives such as the Employee Assistance Program, and UCL’s Mental Health First-Aid Programme, are also available to all staff. Further details of these are set out in the UCL Wellbeing Strategy.

3.5. Staff can join UCL’s Menopause Network by clicking here: liveuclac.sharepoint.com/sites/MenopauseNetwork and then clicking on “Request Access”.

4. Reasonable adjustments 

4.1 There are a range of reasonable adjustments that can be implemented to support someone going through the menopause. 

These could include:

  • Providing temperature control for the work area, such as a fan on the person's desk, enabling them to move near to a window, or away from a heat source;

  • Adapting prescribed clothing, such as permitting the removal of a jacket or lab coat when not needed;

  • Ensuring easy access to washroom facilities;

  • Ensuring storage space is available for a change of clothing;

  • Offering noise-reducing headphones to wear in open plan offices and work spaces;

  • Allowing short breaks in long meetings and ensuring regular breaks from workstations

  • Agreeing to flexible working arrangements;

4.2 Employees should discuss any adjustments with their line manager. 

4.3 Some external sources of help and support for employees and managers include:

  • Menopause matters, which provides information about the menopause, menopausal symptoms and treatment options;

  • The Daisy Network charity, which provides support for women experiencing premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency; and

  • The Menopause Café, which provides information about events where people gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss the menopause.

Employment Policy Team

Last updated: Monday, September 23, 2019


*some trans men and nonbinary people may also experience menopause