RMG Menopause Guide – Supporting Women Through The Menopause – Updated Guide For Managers
Updated Guide Background
LTB 149/18 announced that agreement had been reached between the CWU Health, Safety and Environment Department and the Royal Mail Group Head of Health on the introduction of the first ever Royal Mail Group Menopause Guide for Managers in 2018, entitled “Supporting Women At Work Through The Menopause.” The guide has recently been updated and published in the Royal Mail Group standard format.
This guide outlines the symptoms that some women suffer when going through the menopause, how these symptoms can affect them at work, and practical advice and guidance for managers to give help and support to these women.
Expert Input To The RMG Guide
In the build-up and in preparation for the introduction of the guidance in 2018, meetings involving Royal Mail Group and the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department took place with Professor Amanda Griffiths of the Nottingham University School Of Medicine, who is an expert in the field of the menopause and author of many research studies and guidance on the issue. Professor Griffiths was also involved in the production of the 2016 “Faculty of Occupational Medicine” guidance on menopause and the workplace. Professor Griffiths concluded that it’s good to see that menopause is increasingly being widely recognised as a potential problem and is no longer ‘taboo’.
The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department also met with Jeremy Bevan HSE Head of the HSE Vulnerable Workers Team in 2018. He advised that more awareness and some simple changes, many that women themselves have recommended, can make their working lives during this time much easier.
Both experts endorsed the RMG/CWU approach.
Main Topic Areas In The Guidance:
- What is the menopause?
- How does it affect women?
- How might it affect work?
- What do I need to do as a manager?
- Where to go for further information
The Guidance has been placed on the Royal Mail Group Health & Wellbeing pages of the Royal Mail Group intranet with publicity through the normal Royal Mail and Parcelforce media and communication channels.
Managing An Employee’s Return To Work And Menopause
In 2018, the CWU Health Safety and Environment Department pointed out that line managers need to be trained and informed in order to be aware of how the menopause can affect work and what adjustments may be necessary to support women who are experiencing the menopause. Royal Mail Group responded positively by adding a new paragraph to their “Managing Short Term Absence & Informal Absence Review Guide” to help managers deal with absences relating to the menopause. The paragraph headed “Managing an employee’s return to work” states – “Employees may find it difficult to discuss their health concerns particularly for conditions that are of a personal nature, such as irritable bowel syndrome, the menopause or gender related health issues.
Managers should allow time and listen to the employee when having these conversations.” The emphasis is on the manager to listen and understand that this is a health condition affecting a certain age group of women where they may not be able to perform elements of their duty on a particular day but may be able to perform some other work within the office for example. This is a small but positive step, coupled with the fact that members can ask to be interviewed by someone of the same sex, and combined with the ‘Menopause at Work’ Guidance was a positive move in the right direction.
A 2018 ‘ComRes’ study looking at how the menopause affects women at work and in their relationships, and the treatments they found effective found:
- 70% of working women didn’t want to make their employers aware of their menopause symptoms.
- 48% felt that their mental health had suffered as a result of the menopause.
- 25% said that the menopause made them want to stay at home.
A 2018 ‘King’s College London’ study looked at how symptoms of menopause affect women’s work and careers and found women struggling with menopause symptoms. The study concluded that a simple self-help cognitive behavioural therapy programme, provided in short practical and accessible guidance on the subject and coping at work, would have a positive effect, helping to reduce the degree to which women felt their symptoms were causing them problems and improving the way in which they felt they could discuss menopause in the work place, thus challenging the stereotypical belief that women in menopause are ‘past it’. The study found many women suffering from these debilitating symptoms and feeling unsupported during the menopause with some dropping out of the work force. This natural process has been overlooked and considered a taboo for too long it concluded. Findings from the study:
- In the UK there are 4.3 million women aged 50 and over in employment. By 2020 1 in 3 UK workers will be over 50. All female workers will go through the menopause. The average age of menopause for women in the UK is 51. Some begin in their early 40’s and for others it can go on into their late 50’s and beyond.
- 3 in 4 women experience menopause symptoms and 1 in 4 of these women experience severe physical or psychological symptoms.
- 4 out of 10 women haven’t ever consulted their GP about symptoms of menopause.
- Employers should do more to provide support and better protect these women.
Websites with good Menopause advice and guidance are:
- NHS guidance on the menopause: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/
- Women’s health concerns: https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/menopause/
- Menopause matters: https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/
- Menopause exchange: https://www.menopause-exchange.co.uk/
- Manage my menopause: https://www.managemymenopause.co.uk/
A copy of the RMG updated Menopause Managers Guide is attached.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer