There has, rightly so, in recent years been a lot of media attention on the menopause and the ordeals menopausal women face. What was once something of a taboo subject years ago is now frequently and rightly talked about. The symptoms of menopause can vary greatly. Some women breeze through it with very few symptoms. For others, anxiety, insomnia, lack of confidence, brain fog and night sweats can be common occurrences. The ordeal for some women can be exacerbated at a time in their lives when they may be sandwiched between looking after elderly parents and teenagers.
At our Firm, we now have a team of 22 and 17 or 77% of our workforce are female. Of our female workforce, 40% are going through or have been through the menopause. It is really important to us that we provide support to all our staff when they encounter health issues and this includes any members of the team who are experiencing adverse menopausal symptoms.
We, therefore, have a very flexible working policy. Generally, members of our team can choose whether they work at home or work in the office. We are flexible on timings so if a menopausal woman, for example, has night sweats and a bad night’s sleep then, subject to her diary commitments, she can start work later the following day and stay at home, if she so wishes. All that we ask is that she communicates this to her line manager.
For those of our staff who do come into the office then we have an excellent air conditioning system which means that if people are unusually hot, they can turn the air conditioning right down to cooling. For those then on the same air conditioning system, to avoid them freezing, we have portable heaters which they can plug into their individual rooms.
With approximately 700,000 women in Wales in employment and 15.5 million women in the UK in employment, it is really important that women of all ages are supported in their workplace. The menopause can be stressful enough without inflexible employers.
Having experienced menopausal symptoms myself, I know how difficult it can be. We rightly look after working women when they are pregnant and we should do the same for older women during their menopause. Many of these women will have given 100% pre menopause and employers should ensure they are kind and understanding when, through no fault of their own, some days these ladies are performing under par. The menopause does not last forever and a sympathetic and understanding employer should be able to keep and nurture their talented women without the cost, disruption and aggravation of recruiting from outside. At Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice, we are fully supportive of all our team including the women suffering with menopausal symptoms and we encourage open and honest dialogue and conversations about the same.
Author: Melanie Hamer