Supporting Menopause at Work


By Sian Collin

Menopause and perimenopause shouldn’t be a taboo subject, and everyone should feel they can have a conversation with their line manager, especially when they need guidance and advice. It is a natural stage of life which is experienced by around half of the workforce at some point and many employees with menopause symptoms which can be severe feel that they have to suffer in silence.

The menopause can cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms which can be different for each individual, however, the menopause needn’t be an awkward or embarrassing topic, and even simple changes to someone’s working environment can make a huge difference to their wellbeing and work output.

Employee responsibilities

It is important that, employees prioritise their personal health and wellbeing. If they are struggling with any aspect of their role a a result of symptoms associated with menopause, they should report any concerns they may have to their line manager, who will treat the matter with complete confidence.

Physical symptoms of the menopause can vary but can include the following:

  • Hot flushes
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Skin irritation
  • Urinary problems.
  • Night sweats
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle and joint stiffness

As a result of the above, or as an extension of the hormone imbalance, individuals going through the menopause can also experience psychological difficulties, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Problems with memory and concentration, ie “brain fog”
  • Loss of confidence

In order to ensure they can be provided with the best support possible, you should encourage your employees to be open and honest in these conversations.

Supporting colleagues

There is an expectation for all employers to conduct themselves in a helpful and open-minded manner towards their employees and for employees to behave in the same way too their colleagues.

Employer responsibilities


When responding to an employee experiencing difficulties caused by menopause, line managers should maintain an open-door policy so that employees feel comfortable in approaching them. Line Managers should support employees to talk openly about their current situation and should not make presumptions about how it is affecting them.

Usually, line managers will be the first point of contact if an employee needs to discuss their health concerns or make adjustments to their role. They need to be confident in their role, regarding managing and supporting colleagues with menopausal symptoms. They also need to understand and reduce the barriers that could potentially prevent a colleague going through the menopause transition from performing and/or developing to their full potential.

Line managers need to be able to identify appropriate workplace changes or adjustments to support team members and help them thrive at work, while Employers need to be able to foster an inclusive working environment in which everyone is treated fairly.

Workplace adjustments

If symptoms are affecting your employees work, they should be encouraged and supported to speak with their line manager for support or reasonable adjustments.

The employee doesn’t need a medical certificate or to qualify as disabled for their manager to arrange reasonable adjustments. The aim of the adjustments will be to remove or reduce the disadvantage created by their symptoms so they can succeed at work.

If employees are experiencing difficulties at work or debilitating symptoms, possible adjustments might include flexible working hours or the option to work from home when required.

Once you have agreed on what adjustments are reasonable, these should be reviewed regularly to ensure the employee is getting the right support.

In order to assist with their daily duties, you as line manager should explore making adjustments to their role or working environment with the aim of reducing the effect that the menopause is having on them. We acknowledge that the menopause affects each individual in different ways so no adjustment should be made without fully discussing it with the employee first.

Once the adjustments are agreed, they will be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure they are having the required effect.

Adjustments should be tailored to an individual employees specific needs and below is specific guidance recommended by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD):


Sleep Disruption &/or night sweats
  • Recognise someone may take more short-term absence if they’ve had a difficult night.
  • Consider a change to shift patterns or the ability to swap shifts on a temporary basis.
  • Offer a flexible working arrangement, for example a later start and finish time.
  • Where possible, ensure employees know they can work from home on an ad hoc basis if they’ve had a rough night.
Hot Flushes
  • Look at ways to cool the working environment, for example provide a fan, move a desk close to a window or adjust the air conditioning.
  • Provide easy access to cold drinking water and washrooms.
  • Adapt uniforms to improve comfort.
  • Limit the time wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
Heavy or irregular periods
  • Provide easy access to washroom and toilet facilities.
  • Allow for more frequent breaks to go to the toilet.
  • Be understanding about someone working from home if they have very heavy bleeding.
  • Make sanitary products available in washrooms.
  • Make it easy to request extra uniforms if needed.
Headaches and fatigue
  • Consider a temporary adjustment to someone’s work duties.
  • Provide a quiet area to work.
  • Provide access to a rest room.
  • Offer easy access to drinking water.
  • Allow regular breaks and opportunities to take medication.
Muscular aches and joint pain
  • Make any necessary temporary adjustments through review of risk assessments and work schedules.
  • Allow someone to move around or stay mobile if that helps.
Psychological issues – anxiety and poor concentration
  • Encourage employees to discuss concerns at one-to-one meetings with you and/or occupational health.
  • Discuss possible adjustments to tasks and duties that are proving a challenge.
  • Address work-related stress by carrying out a stress risk assessment recommended by the HSE.
  • Signpost to an employee assistance programme or counselling services if available.
  • Identify a supportive colleague to talk to away from the office or work area, such as a wellbeing champion.
  • Agree different ways to communicate, to alleviate things being forgotten or missed.
  • Allow time, when needed, to have some quiet time or undertake relaxation or mindfulness activities.
  • Provide access to a quiet space to work or the opportunity to work from home.
  • Have agreed protected time to catch up with work.
  • Discuss whether it would be helpful for the employee to see their GP, if they haven’t already.


Other examples of adjustments include:

  • Provide private areas for employees to rest, recover or make a telephone call to access personal or professional support.
  • Ensure working time arrangements are flexible enough to meet the needs of menopausal employees. For example, they may need more breaks during the day, or may need to leave work suddenly if their symptoms become severe.
  • Facilitate a comfortable working environment wherever possible – including adequate drinking water supplies, temperature-controlled areas, and access to toilets and showers or washing facilities.

Remember that menopause symptoms can fluctuate, so take a flexible approach and check in regularly with the individual.

The Company is legally obliged by the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to an employee’s role or working conditions if they have a disability that places them at a disadvantage when performing their role. The effect of the menopause is often long term and impacting upon daily life; so fulfilling the test for disability purposes.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments should consider the specific needs of menopausal employees and ensure that the working environment will not make their symptoms worse. Making simple changes to the working environment can help to alleviate the impact of some symptoms. A risk assessment should look at issues such as:

  • temperature and ventilation
  • the materials used in any uniform or corporate clothing
  • access to toilet facilities and access to cold water.

Managing Performance

If someone’s performance is suffering, it’s important to help them address the root cause. In some cases, menopausal symptoms can be so serious that they affect a person’s performance at work. In this situation, it’s in everyone’s interest (yours, your employer’s and the employee’s) to discuss potential adjustments that could help the individual perform to their full potential. This could included further use of written records, reminders, agendas, to-do lists etc.

Where there are suspected or known health issues, these should be explored, prior to any formal processes for underperformance. Performance management should not just be a one-off annual appraisal meeting. It is most effective when it’s proactive, informal and based on regular and constructive feedback and discussion. This helps to build trust-based relationships and two-way dialogue, making it easier to address any underlying health issues.

If you don’t address the root causes of poor performance, any solutions are unlikely to fully resolve the issue – and problems can spiral into sickness absence.

How do I manage health issues affecting performance?

  • Have regular, informal catchups with employees.
  • Approach performance conversations supportively and positively.
  • Take any health issues fully into account where there is underperformance on the part of an individual.
  • Identify any extra support or coaching the person may benefit from.
  • Set reasonable timescales for improvements.

At THSP, we are happy to support and provide guidance to company’s regarding supporting their employees with Menopause and Perimenopause. We provide policies and guidance, as well as toolkits to support management.

We are also able to offer e-learning training and support for line managers to give them guidance and understanding of how to support their employees.