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Flexible working arrangements for women in menopause: new guidelines

It's a big step in the right direction

menopause leave
Melanie Macleod
Melanie MacleodWellness Editor
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Menopausal women working for the NHS in England will be able to work flexibly under new guidance.

READ: Why can't I sleep during menopause? The real reason

Women have been calling for menopause leave or flexible working conditions during menopause and the NHS has answered the call with its new guidance, which has been designed to be transferable to other workplaces too.

WATCH: Penny Lancaster gets emotional as she opens about menopause

The guidance refers to how menopause symptoms can impact people at work, and details how managers can support staff during menopause, in order to retain employees and stop women from dropping out of the workplace during menopause - a study of 4,000 women by Reference showed that 1 in 10 left their jobs due to their perimenopause, so this progress is much needed.

READ: How to fix your sex and relationship issues during menopause

MORE: What to do when menopause impacts your work, according to an HR expert

The NHS's new guidelines suggest managers normalise staff asking for help and allowing flexible working arrangements where possible.

It also outlines the requirements for making a workplace ‘menopause-friendly’, including providing uniforms made out of suitable, breathable fabrics and giving employees the ability to control the temperature of the space they’re working in.

older woman working at a laptop at home wearing neutral clothes© Photo: iStock

The NHS has introduced new guidelines for menopausal staff

If your job hasn't made allowances for menopause, there are ways to navigate perimenopause in the workplace.

MORE: Claudia Winkleman urged to go to the doctor amid this worrying symptom

1. Talk to your line manager

"Having an open conversation with work will help your colleagues or boss understand you're not feeling your best and that it may impact your work," she said.

HR professional Anna Whitehead agrees: "Being open about your perimenopause symptoms will allow your line manager to consider temporary adjustments to your role that will support you."

smiling woman working at home wearing a navy blue top© Photo: iStock

The NHS' menopause guidelines are designed to be applicable for all workplaces

"If people understand you're being impacted by physiological changes perhaps there’s scope for working more flexibility, changing your hours, or doing different activities in the workplace," adds Dr. Sohere.

2. Explain *exactly* how perimenopause is impacting your work

Perimenopause impacts everyone differently, so make sure you're clear on how it's impacting you, be it feeling too hot in the office, struggling to maintain concentration in meetings or experiencing tiredness after a bad night's sleep.

"It’s helpful to explain how perimenopause is affecting you personally, whether that’s lack of sleep, poor focus or irritability in meetings," confirms Dr. Sohere.

3. Explain adjustments you need

"Everyone experiences perimenopause differently so the adjustments will vary for each individual," Anna explains.

"Explain what help you’re seeking and also state what would make your working life more comfortable, perhaps working from home some days or delegating some of your tasks for now," Dr. Sohere suggests.

Employers have a duty of care to consider requests for adjustments at work, says Anna. "You can also ask your GP to provide a fit note that suggests adjustments at work that will help you. This can be very helpful for you and your line manager if you are uncertain about what will support you.

"The types of support could be a fan or moving desks to sit in a cooler area, adjustments to uniform requirements, splitting a colleague's lunch break so that you can take regular smaller breaks outside to keep energy levels up, temporary adjustments to working hours and flexibility to attend more frequent GP appointments. Permanent adjustments to working hours would be made through your company's flexible working policy," Anna advises.

READ: How to talk to your kids about menopause – whatever age they are

HELLO! and charity Wellbeing of Women are calling on more employers to take positive action to make sure women going through the menopause are fully supported. The first step is to sign up to our Menopause Workplace Pledge.

In signing up to this pledge:

1. We recognise that the menopause is a workplace issue and women may need support

2. We will talk openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause

3. We commit to actively support our employees affected by the menopause

Sign up to HELLO’s Menopause Memo to receive xpert-led menopause intel direct to your inbox.

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