If you’re not sure what support is available to you through your employer it’s worth checking policies first before you do anything else.
The reason I suggest this is because 1) there’s nothing wrong with educating yourself and being prepared for a meeting with your manager but also 2) a lot of managers often don’t even know what support is available! This is obviously more of an issue when you work for a bigger company.
Types of policies to look for:
- A menopause policy! (they do exist in some workplaces)
- Employee wellbeing
- Flexible Working
- Attendance Management / Sickness Absence
- Stress Management
- Health and Safety
- Performance Management
A lot of these policies may have specific information related to menopause but it’s more likely that it will be more general and could be interpreted to suit your needs.
Some employers have recognised that menopause is significant enough that it has an impact on their business. This is particularly the case if they have predominantly female employees. This is not uncommon in some occupations such as caring and retail roles.
If your employer has a menopause policy, it’s likely that it will outline what support is available to you such as a risk assessment and reasonable adjustments as well as allowances regarding sickness absence.
The policy should also outline the employer’s commitment to supporting staff in general such as training, awareness days, manager and employee responsibilities.
Flexible Working Policy
This can be useful if you really don’t want to fully disclose the difficulties you’re having with menopause. Flexible working can be done in a variety of ways such as working from home, reducing your hours, compressing your hours, or having flexi-time. Be warned though, you will have to submit a request in writing and you’ll be expected to justify the reasons for your request as well as demonstrating what the benefit might also be to the business. If you don’t want to mention menopause, you could cite your reasons for being about work-life balance but they may well want more info from you. You can also submit a request related to what is called a statutory entitlement such as under the Equality Act. As a woman experiencing menopause, it is possible to consider this due to the symptoms and their impact if they are significant. To be denied reasonable adjustments could then be considered discrimination on a number of grounds such as disability, gender and age.
Attendance Management / Sickness Absence Policy
If you’ve had issues with short term absence and are falling foul to sickness absence procedures, it’s worth looking at what other support is on offer in the Attendance Management / Sickness Absence policy as it may well give advice on how to get support with chronic conditions (of which menopause can be classed as one).
Many employers carry out a return to work interview after a period of sickness so you could consider using this as an opportunity to speak to your manager about how you’ve been feeling and what sort of support you may need. Some employers will carry out welfare meetings for employees who have had a certain number of absences in a period. This can also be an opportunity to discuss any issues with a view to getting support put in place.
Stress Management Policy
A stress management policy will usually contain a risk assessment which might be useful as it will cover things such as your work environment. If you’re having issues with hot flushes for example, then this can be helpful. It may also help with other aspects of your work such as workload. If you’re having difficulty concentrating and this is impacting your productivity or ability to keep up with targets, a stress risk assessment can help negotiate support and adjustments such as reduced targets or more time to complete tasks.
Health and Safety Policy
Many health and safety policies cover issues related to all employee health and safety whether you are working from a particular workplace or field or home working. Much of a health and safety policy will consider things like risk assessments to cover environmental things such as workplace temperature and ventilation, access to adequate toilet and washing facilities, access to drinking water, uniforms and PPE, working times and break times, workplace stress and workload and bullying and harassment. As you can see, a lot of these are very relevant when it comes to managing some menopause symptoms!
Performance Management Policy
This policy is often instigated by managers to help deal with performance issues. We all know that things like brain fog and lack of concentration can really affect your performance at work, as well as feeling tired due to lack of sleep or quality sleep. These can lead to problems with keeping up with the workload, managing it in the time available and interpersonal issues.
Instigating this policy is a good way for managers to explore issues in a structured way with the aim of putting an action plan in place to manage and monitor performance. It’s often seen as a negative thing but it can really be very positive if you choose to see it that way!
So as you can see, it’s definitely worth reading through a few policies to make sure you’re clued up. Keep an open mind as you read them and remember to think of your symptoms in the same way as you would an illness. If you need any help interpreting what support may be on offer to you feel free to get in touch with me and I’m happy to help.