Dealing With the Menopause in the Workplace

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2018 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2018
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with concern that little account is taken of factors which affect women going through the menopause in councils and schools. For some women, though by no means all, the menopause presents particular difficulties, which may include insomnia, tiredness, loss of concentration and forgetfulness, as well as the potentially lower levels of physical fitness.

Simple adjustments to the working environment can make a huge difference to women’s lives during this time, for example:

1)Flexible working/later start times to combat issues caused by sleep disturbance;

2) Alterations to shift patterns where appropriate;

3) Flexible sickness absence procedures to cater for menopause-related sickness absence;

4) Improved work facilities such as cooler office temperatures and increased ventilation; access to cold water, restrooms and private space; alternative uniforms if uniforms are worn at work (cooler fabrics, layers, more supplies if frequent changes are needed etc);

5) Managers being mindful as to whether symptoms are affecting performance and/or attendance at work, and working closely with occupational health specialists to identify any other reasonable adjustments that may make working life easier for menopausal women.

However, employers have been slow to recognise that women of menopausal age may need special consideration. For too long it has been seen a private matter. As a result many managers will have no awareness of the issues involved. This means that many women feel that they have to hide their symptoms and will be less likely to ask for adjustments that may help them.

This must change. The menopause is an important occupational health issue in councils and schools. 78% of NJC workers are women. In Scotland, 67% of the SJC workforce are women. In the last UNISON local government survey 74% of respondents were 45 years and over.

Conference calls upon the local government service group executive to:

a)Raise awareness of the UNISON and TUC guidance on dealing with the menopause at work;

b) Produce and promote guidance for branches on negotiating with employers on measures to support women going through the menopause, and identifying workplace champions;

c) Use all means possible to seek to ensure that the menopause is covered in appropriate training – such as diversity and health related training, both for managers and other staff.