Renfrewshire Council

How managers can support colleagues with menopause

Your responsibilities as a manager, having a conversation with a team member about menopause, if they want to talk to you or someone else, online training, what support and adjustments you could implement, menopause health needs assessment.

Your responsibilities as a manager

As a manager you need to:

  • understand what menopause is and how it can affect your colleagues at work
  • create a supportive and positive work environment where your colleagues feel encouraged to discuss the impact of menopause symptoms at work with you
  • be open and willing to listen to your colleagues and treat them with respect and understanding
  • consider your colleagues' views on the support they feel they need, so they know what the options are
  • work with your colleagues to implement the support they need and help them thrive and fulfil their potential
  • regularly review the facilities where your team members work, in the office, at home or other locations, such as access to rest spaces and toilet or washroom facilities
  • take corrective actions, if possible, to ensure your colleagues' comfort levels
  • record and monitor any workplace supports agreed or actions implemented to support your colleagues
  • review support and adjustments implemented and amend them if required
  • contact your HR and OD Adviser or the Occupational Health Service for additional advice.

Having a conversation with a team member affected by menopause

Some of your colleagues might be comfortable to talk openly and honestly with you about how menopause is affecting them at work and some others might not. It is their decision if they want to disclose this information to you, as their manager.

Conversations may be around:

  • symptoms which have been medically diagnosed or symptoms that have not been diagnosed
  • impact on or changes to health or performance that has arisen without a clear reason
  • concerns about a family member that an employee is supporting through menopause.

What is important is to treat everyone fairly, respectfully, and individually. 

Avoid any negative and discriminatory attitudes about the menopause, such as jokes, as this may make colleagues less comfortable to talk openly and seek for support.

Our duties to colleagues

Whilst we have a moral duty to prevent unfair treatment towards our colleagues who may be experiencing the symptoms of menopause at work, we also have a legal duty.

Under the Equality Act 2010, these symptoms can constitute a disability in some context.

We have a legal duty to prevent unfair treatment towards our colleagues and make sure those with disabilities are not discriminated while doing their job.

Colleagues with existing health conditions or other needs

If employees have an existing health condition that is made worse by menopause, it may be necessary to review any reasonable adjustments that were previously in place.

Also keep in mind that colleagues with conditions that cause difficulties in communication, such as autism, learning disabilities, or colleagues whose first language is not English, may have more difficulty in explaining how the menopause affects them at work.

Some colleagues may also not want to disclose their gender status and may be reluctant to discuss menopause symptoms as a result.

If your team member wants to talk to you about it

As a manager, you need to be willing and ready to have discussions with your colleagues on issues that are very personal, treating all discussions with sensitivity, confidentiality, and professionalism.

When arranging, attending or participating in a conversation about menopause symptoms, supports, and adjustments, consider these points:

  • prepare for the meeting by learning more about menopause and potential supports and adjustments
  • make sure you have a quiet and private place to speak to your colleague, at a time they feel comfortable and when you are unlikely to be interrupted
  • thank them for whatever information they are comfortable sharing with you and reassure them this conversation can remain confidential if they want it to
  • avoid drawing on your personal experience or making assumptions about their situation
  • ask what the impact of menopause symptoms is on their work
  • discuss possible supports or adjustments that can help them remain at work and if flexibility is required with work patterns or time off to attend appointments
  • signpost them to guidance and support available within the council including the Time for Talking counselling service
  • agree if other colleagues should be informed, how, and by whom
  • record the outcome of the meeting, and any adjustments and actions that have been agreed
  • ask your team member if you can consult with an HR and OD Adviser or the Occupational Health service
  • allocate time for follow up conversations to update on progress of agreed actions.

You can use the menopause health needs assessment form to record the workplace support you and your team member have agreed.

Online training to support menopause

You can take the Supporting Menopause course on iLearn.

The training covers:

  • the stages and symptoms of menopause, both physical and psychological
  • where to direct colleagues for advice from health professionals
  • your role in supporting colleagues
  • the range of flexible practical adjustments and paid leave we offer.

To take the course, log on to iLearn and search for 'supporting menopause' to find the course.

You can also find the course by:

  • clicking on the Leadership and Management tab on the homepage
  • opening the Policies and Procedures panel
  • selecting the Supporting menopause course.

If a team member wants to talk to someone else

A colleague may not be comfortable discussing the impact of menopause symptoms with you. In these circumstances, arrange for another suitable manager or a HR and OD Adviser to meet with this colleague instead.

If they feel like they can't inform you directly, they should contact their HR and OD Adviser. This will allow HR and OD to liaise with you and make alternative arrangements.

Who you can talk to about the menopause

What support and adjustments you could implement

Each concerned colleague may need different forms of support. Some colleagues may just want an empathic ear, while others may need more formal support.

If someone you manage is being affected at work by menopause symptoms and has raised it with you, you can work with them to identify the right supports and adjustments that can help them at work.

You should consider the nature of your colleague's duties and working environment when identifying appropriate adjustments, as some may not be possible for certain job roles and workplaces.

Some of these supports and adjustments may incur a cost, which will need covered by your service budget.

Menopause health needs assessment form

You can use the menopause health needs assessment form to record the workplace support you and your team member have agreed.

Keep the completed assessment form on their personnel file and review it regularly with them to make sure the agreed workplace support is in place in a timely manner or if you need to make any adjustments.

What you could do to help your team member manage their menopause symptoms at work.

How to manage requests for menopause paid leave and record it on Business World.