Channel 4 launches dedicated menopause policy

From paid leave to flexible working to dedicated quiet, cool places to work, Channel 4 has launched its first-ever dedicated menopause policy for its staff.

To coincide with World Menopause Day (October 18), the policy is thought to be the first of its kind among UK media companies. It is designed to support employees experiencing menopausal symptoms while providing guidance to colleagues and line managers about how they can be supportive to those transitioning through it.

Less than five per cent of UK businesses offer a dedicated menopause policy, according to research, despite 59% of women in the workplace experiencing menopausal symptoms say they have a negative impact on their work.

And given that most women experience the menopause while they’re still working, it makes sense that employers have systems in place to properly support their staff.

There are new resources available for HRs and employers to ensure their organisation has the right policies in place. Some of them address not only the relevant legal issues (how not to be landed with an employment tribunal, and so on) but how to create a workplace culture which best supports staff going through what can be a stressful time.

Generally, discussing the menopause is seen as a bit taboo and that has meant it’s been difficult for employees and employers to raise the subject at work. Studies show that many workers do not disclose their menopausal symptoms at work.

In fact, many who take time off work because of symptoms related to the menopause still do not tell their employer the real reasons for their absence. This is often out of embarrassment and also fear that their manager will be unsympathetic.

However, new guidelines produced by workplace advice service Acas, for example, aim to help employers support staff who are going through the menopause.

The information in the Acas guide includes details on the symptoms of the menopause, the relevant employment laws, and how employers can lessen the risk of a claim being made in the employment tribunal.

The menopause is an area where HRs can play a significant role in helping organisations to engage and support their staff, according to CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. It offers guides published this year, for managers and people professionals to help break the stigma of the menopause, and ensure their staff achieve their potential at work.

This year is the tenth World Menopause Day, founded by the International Menopause Society, to raise awareness and start a global conversation about the menopause.

While supporting staff through what can be a stressful time in their lives is good for employees, Acas points out that it also makes business sense for employers too. Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms already affect a substantial number of workers, says Acas. That number is expected to grow considerably, with more older workers forecast to stay in or go back to work.

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