Can you be signed off work due to menopause?

Menopause is the phase of a woman’s life, generally between the ages of 45 and 54, marking the end of their reproductive functions. Once a woman goes through the menopause, they are no longer able to conceive children, nor have periods.

However, unfortunately it is not as simple as that. The menopause can bring about a range of physical and emotional symptoms that may significantly impact a woman’s ability to perform her job effectively. With 11% of the UK workforce being made up of women of menopausal age, this is not only life changing for the women themselves, but also for the employers and business owners. Such debilitating symptoms can sometimes cause women to need time off to relax and recoup during such a stressful time in their lives. But can they do this?

Here at Bodyline, we’d like to explore the effects of menopause in the workplace, the symptoms women may experience, their rights as menopausal employees, and suggestions for improving workplace support. We hope this helps answer the question of signing off work due to the menopause.

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What Are the Symptoms of Menopause?

Menopause symptoms can vary from woman to woman, but thanks to research by the UK government, we know that some of the most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss

These symptoms can have a profound impact on a woman’s physical and emotional well-being, making it difficult to function optimally in the workplace. They can increase stress and lead these women to lose confidence in their ability to work to high standards.

That’s why so many women turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help deal with this drop in the quality of their lives.

How Can Menopause Affect You in the Workplace?

Menopause can have various effects on women in the workplace.

Since common symptoms of menopause include difficulty sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and depression, each day at work can be incredibly tiring, stress inducing, and problematic. This is particularly the case when we know that menopausal women feel increasingly stigmatised and ridiculed at work.

These symptoms can significantly impact a woman’s ability to concentrate, leading to reduced productivity and loss of confidence. They can also increase stress levels, which is often exacerbated when their symptoms cause them to lose out on promotions, internal targets, and interpersonal relationships.

As a result, menopausal women may find it challenging to perform their duties effectively, which can lead to the need for time off work.

What Rights Do I Have as a Menopausal Employee?

As a menopausal employee in the UK, there are no laws that mention menopause having any specific protections, however you do have certain rights and general protections in the workplace that can be used to aid menopausal employees.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination based on age, gender, and disability, which includes menopause-related symptoms. Prohibiting discrimination based on age and gender is self-explanatory for the prohibition of menopause discrimination, but there are also arguments that some symptoms are so debilitating that they come under the category of disability too.

Additionally, The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires all employers to ensure that your health, safety, and welfare are protected. For menopausal employees, this can manifest itself in the form of regular breaks, access to fans or air-conditioning, and offering cool drinking water.

This means that employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to support menopausal employees and ensure they are not treated unfairly. Reasonable adjustments may include flexible working arrangements, adjustments to working conditions, or providing additional support and resources.

If you believe your workplace is not informed on this, we offer gold standard corporate menopause solutions that include training workshops and presentations to educate employees and employers about the impact of menopause on the workforce. Tell your employer to get in touch with us to discuss bespoke packages.

Could I Be Signed Off Work for the Menopause?

In some cases, the symptoms of menopause can be severe enough to significantly impact a woman’s ability to work. If the symptoms become unmanageable and affect a woman’s overall health and well-being, she may advise her to take time off work.

However, being signed off work due to menopause is not a standard practice, and it will depend on the individual circumstances and medical advice. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or occupational health specialist to assess your specific situation and determine the best course of action.

We encourage open and candid conversations with employers. Though it is a sensitive subject, communication is key, and may lead to positive changes and adjustments such as flexible work hours, reduced workload, and potentially time off work.

Keep in mind your rights for reasonable adjustments when speaking to your employer about signing off work. You may find that when these adjustments are made, your work improves and stress decreases.

What Can I Suggest to My Workplace to Help Me with the Menopause?

If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms that affect your work, it is crucial to communicate with your employer and discuss possible solutions. Here are some suggestions you can make to your workplace to help you manage the menopause:

  1. Raise awareness: Encourage your employer to provide information and education about menopause in the workplace, and ensure they make employees aware of any relevant policies they have. This can help create a supportive and understanding environment and remove the stigma of the menopause.
  2. Flexible working arrangements: Explore the possibility of flexible working hours or remote work options to accommodate your needs during periods of severe symptoms. Alternative working hours, remote work from home, or even four-day weeks are generally good options to discuss.
  3. Adjustments to the working environment: Request adjustments to your working conditions, such as temperature control or access to a private space for managing symptoms like hot flashes.
  4. Well-being programs: Advocate for the implementation of well-being programmes and corporate support that can cover menopause-related issues, such as stress management, healthy lifestyle practices, and access to counselling or support groups.
  5. Referral: Signposting for menopause treatment.

At Bodyline, we understand the challenges that menopausal women face in the workplace. We offer a range of health and wellness solutions tailored to support menopausal employees. Our comprehensive medical wellness programme, the M Plan, includes personalised treatments like hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) to alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being.

The M Plan in the workplace includes fully supporting the menopause journey for employees. Whether that be holistic support with guidance and education, or with medical intervention and bespoke hormone replacement therapy treatment plans, prescribing medications/supplements, and supplying the prescription through our supply infrastructure.

With over 17 years of experience, we are proven to optimise menopausal women’s health and wellbeing and in turn offer positive benefits to business performance. If you would like to learn more about our corporate solutions for menopausal employees, including our M Plan, please contact us today at 0800 995 6036 or through our online contact form.

Remember, prioritising the health and well-being of menopausal employees benefits not only the individuals but also the organisation as a whole. Let’s create a fair, supportive, and caring work environment that values the talent and experience of women at all stages of life.

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