This site is intended for health professionals only

Menopause in the workplace: five tips for practices

11 March 2024

Share this article

GP Dr Victoria Hoyle explains about new legal obligations on employers to support staff experiencing menopause symptoms – and sets out practical ways to offer meaningful help

Guidance on managing menopause in the workplace was released last month by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It outlines employer’s legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and the need for ‘reasonable adjustments’.

Women make up 75% of the NHS workforce and research has shown that 10% of women have had to give up work or reduce their hours due to menopausal symptoms. Other research, highlighted in the new guidance, revealed that two thirds of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 with experience of menopausal symptoms said they have had a mostly negative impact on them at work.

As practices it is essential that GP practices give consideration to the new guidance in order to support our teams. Failure to comply could result in claims arising for disability discrimination. However, there are some easy steps we can take to ensure we are not only compliant at a minimum level but are achieving beyond what is expected to help get the best out of our workforce.

1. Ensure that there is at least one person within the team that has read and understood the guidance. This doesn’t need to be a clinician, in fact, I would suggest a non-clinician may be preferable to encourage engagement. Having someone with an interest in the menopause who could become a ‘menopause champion’ and look at ways to support within your organisation would be a great starting point.

2. Develop a menopause policy that is functional, personalised to your team and not just a tick-box exercise. Engaging with staff and asking what would help them is the best way to do this. While there are some common symptoms of menopause, not every woman experiences these in the same way so adjustments need to be person specific. Once the policy is developed make sure that everyone knows where they can find it and how to access help.

3. Show your commitment to making impactful change by signing up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge. This shows that you are committed to supporting your staff and creating a diverse workplace. It also offers employers resources on practical support.

4. Foster an open communication culture. Women may not know how to broach the subject of menopause within the workplace and might feel embarrassed. Having a culture where menopause is openly discussed breaks downs these barriers. It could be as simple as initiating a discussion over coffee about this article. Leaders, you have a key role in initiating conversations and setting the tone for your practice or PCN.

5. Develop a community. Group education events for staff are a great way to build a sense of community, connection and support. Some of my team have joined my patient group consultations on menopause for the education part of the sessions. We are also hoping to set up a PCN-group education session. The benefit of these sessions is that women have an opportunity to share experiences, if they wish to. Those that prefer just to listen can do that too. As an employer, it gives us a unique opportunity to discuss policy and process while also bringing in the human side and hearing about the practical issues in the workplace that women may be experiencing.

In summary, the new guidance shouldn’t be viewed as another laborious policy that we have to comply with. Instead, we can view this as an opportunity to support and empower women. If we can create a workforce where we are not losing highly skilled and experienced team members due to menopause then the benefits are going to be felt at every level across practices and PCNs. These include delivering a better level of service to our patients.

Dr Victoria Hoyle is clinical director, Knowsley Central and South PCN and GP partner with a special interest in women’s health at The Hollies Medical Centre, Halewood

A version of this article was first published on our sister title Pulse PCN