The Effects on staff going through the Menopause

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2019 Community Conference and Seminar
6 November 2018
Carried as Amended

In the Community & Voluntary Sector which includes care provision, charities, not for profit organisations and housing associations, women make up nearly half of the workforce and with the increasing numbers of older workers many well be either be currently experiencing the menopause or will have worked through it.

Around eight in ten women report having noticeable symptoms as a result of the menopause with 45 % of these finding the symptoms hard to deal with.

Traditionally the menopause has been a taboo subject, rarely discussed openly even within families and between generations. Work places, even those dominated by female workers, have been slow to recognise that the menopause can have a significant impact on a woman’s mental, physical and emotional health. The menopause is not recognised in many workplaces as an issue and consequently many women have felt they have to hide their symptoms and have not been able to request additional considerations or adjustments.

In 2016 the TUC surveyed almost 4000 workers on this issue. They report that response was overwhelming with almost 9/10 respondents stating that they felt the menopause had a direct effect on their working lives.

The survey also showed that very few workplaces had a policy that provided support to employees experiencing menopausal symptoms.

The menopause does not only affect those traditionally associated with it, i.e. Cis women (denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex) it also effects transmen who have either had their ovaries removed, thus causing a forced menopause, or who have retained their ovaries which results in them going through the menopause later in life.

Transwomen experience symptoms of the menopause due to the hormones they take during and after transition. Intersex and non-binary people may also experience the menopause. Just imagine how much more difficult it is to address this ‘taboo’ subject with your employer, or colleagues if you do not conform to what people think of as female.

The impact of the menopause is particularly difficult for many of our sectors members. As low paid workers people cannot afford to take time off and risk sickness absence reviews. We often work in isolated workplaces or, in the case of support workers, within people’s homes. This means some of the suggestions from the TUC study, such as access to showers, flexible working and the provision of fans, cannot be utilised.

Support such as menopause policies, information and advice and recognition of the impact can be used in all workplaces and with all roles.

We call on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1. To work with the NEC and all appropriate agencies to develop a support plan which can be adapted within the community sector to support our members.

2. Promote up to date information for members working in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations that will provide advice and ways of improvement in the acceptance of the menopause which is a bigger issue in the sector that affects the staff.

3. Communicate with employers in the Community & Voluntary Sector and Housing Associations to share best practice in promoting the benefits of supporting staff that are experiencing issues with the menopause.