Last reviewed 11 March 2022

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has marked International Women’s Day by unveiling what he described as a world-leading menopause policy that will put in place practical steps to better support women and all colleagues going through menopause transition at City Hall.

It will also, he went on, introduce measures to shift perceptions surrounding menopause in the workplace.

The aim is to lead the way in recognising the long-term effects of the menopause and highlighting that staff experiencing it are entitled to request suitable support and workplace adjustments.

This could, he explained, mean ensuring that the working environment is comfortable wherever possible; for instance, with temperature-controlled areas, as well as flexible adjustments to the working day to accommodate the need to take breaks if symptoms become severe, time off to attend medical appointments or suitable changes to work tasks when experiencing symptoms.

This will ensure that anyone experiencing menopausal symptoms gets the same support and understanding as they would for any other health issue.

This new approach also aims to challenge the taboo surrounding menopause, which can prevent staff from accessing the support they need or leave them feeling embarrassed or anxious in the workplace.

The policy outlines that all staff are responsible for having a general awareness of menopause issues and to challenge inappropriate behaviour or derogatory remarks about the menopause. This is to create an environment where staff can comfortably discuss their symptoms and request suitable arrangements, as well as equipping managers with the information they need to better understand the health implications of the menopause and what support they should provide to ensure staff can continue working effectively in their role.

Welcoming the move, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Good employers want to ensure the best possible working environment. Women must be able to do their jobs in comfort and not feel stigmatised either. Flexible working can make a real difference. Employers must also be careful not to penalise women for taking more time off sick if it's down to the menopause.”

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

The menopause can be a difficult time for employees, with many reporting feelings of embarrassment and discomfort about having related discussions, in addition to the physical and emotional symptoms typically associated with this period.

As such, it’s important that employers are adequately trained in holding these conversations before they can consider providing effective support to affected individuals.

Menopause policies can further highlight the steps employees should take, and the support measures available, should they need them. Doing so can help increase staff retention, reduce recruitment expenses, improve productivity, happiness and wellbeing, and ensure a more diverse workforce.