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Managers should record menopause-related absences, new NHS England guidance says

by Beth Gault
25 November 2022

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New guidance to help managers support staff through the menopause recommends that they record menopause-related absences.

The NHS England document also includes a checklist for practices to work through to assess if they are ‘menopause friendly’.

Supporting our NHS people through menopause: guidance for line managers and colleagues, said that practices should record menopause-related absences so they can better understand the impact it is having on staff.

However, it added that those NHS organisations not using electronic staff records, including in primary care, would need to take a ‘bespoke approach’ to determine how exactly to capture this staff absence data. 

The guidance said: ‘By recording menopause-related absences accurately, organisations can gain a better understanding of the impact menopause is having on their colleagues and put in place the necessary support.  It is recommended that each practice includes the recording of menopause-related absence when reviewing practice-based sickness levels.’

Practices can also use the guidance to assess how ‘menopause friendly’ they are.

It includes questions such as: is there a menopause guidance document in place?, is there the right training and support available?, and are workplace facilities menopause friendly?

Line managers are urged to foster an open and inclusive culture where staff feel they can talk about issues related to menopause. They can do this by:

  • Normalising asking for help
  • Increasing their own and their team’s knowledge and awareness of the menopause and access training on how to have wellbeing conversations with staff
  • Linking to local occupational health and wellbeing services, employee assistance programmes, organisational health and wellbeing champions
  • Sharing details of wellbeing support available with staff
  • Encouraging attendance at organisational menopause support groups and networks
  • Considering flexible working to help staff cope with symptoms.

Managers were also reminded to be aware of transgender, non-binary and intersex staff who may experience the menopause.

‘It is important to acknowledge some trans, non-binary and intersex staff may not wish to disclose their menopausal symptoms as this may mean disclosing their trans or intersex status,’ it said.

‘It can therefore be particularly difficult for these employees to access support and/or ask for adjustments. Within each of these groups, people’s needs will be different and so it is crucial to listen to people on an individual basis and allow them to take the lead on their conversations and required adjustments.’

The BMA has welcomed the guidance, calling on employers to put it into action to ensure staff are supported and to ‘stop the stigma around a normal physiological process’.

It said its own research has found that a significant number of women senior doctors have reduced their hours, left management roles, or intend to leave medicine altogether because of the barriers they faced when going through the menopause.

Dr Latifa Patel, BMA representative body chair, said: ‘We have always emphasised that simple steps can be taken by employers to help retain women experiencing the menopause and ensure less lost working days because of menopausal symptoms – tangible actions such as better access to flexible working patterns, access to appropriate facilities and occupational health services, and provision of wellbeing support.’

She added: ‘At a time when the NHS is experiencing widespread and significant workforce shortages it has never been more important that we support all staff to reach their potential so that they can continue to offer their best to patients.’

The guidance comes after MPs were told that menopause should be included in the QOF framework to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Read the NHS England guidance in full here.