Menopause in the workplace

Hang on a second. Not sure what menopause is? Check out this fact sheet on menopause basics first.

Menopause friendly workplaces are union business

Union members are committed to gender equality and that doesn’t only mean addressing the gender pay gap (although that too is important). It means dealing with all aspects of gender inequality and that includes menopause. 

This commitment also pertains to members of the LBTQIA+ community who expect to undergo or have already gone through menopause.  

No worker should have to suffer in silence. And that’s where unions play an important role. First, in smashing the stigma surrounding menopause and second, in ensuring employers are creating menopause friendly work environments.  

This fact sheet covers how unions can make changes in your workplace to help workers experiencing menopause. You can also find menopause risk assessment checklist at the bottom of this page.

Your Health and Safety Representative is there for you

If you have any health concerns or what to start a conversation about any of the adjustments listed in the checklist below, raise it with your Health and Safety Representative (HSR). HSRs can represent you when raising issues with management. 

The purpose of HSRs is to represent you and your colleagues in health and safety matters. And that’s not just physical health – it’s to take care of your mental health too.   

It is important to note that HSRs are different from other types of safety officers or first-aid officers you might find at work.   

You and your workmates elect one (or more) of you to become a HSR which comes with specific legal powers – check with your union what these are because they do vary depending on the state or territory laws. 

Your best protection at work is union membership. Workplaces with HSRs are safer and healthier workplaces.  

Workers are people first. That’s why union members stand together for better workplace conditions and protected workers’ rights. Always.

Menopause risk assessment checklist

Your employer should be proactive in implementing measures to accommodate for workers experiencing menopause. 

You can use this checklist for you and/or your HSR to identify changes that can be made at your workplace. This checklist does not cover everything but is a resource you can use to help you get started.

Sickness reporting Can the worker report absence due to illness to an alternative point of contact e.g. a female manager?  
StressDoes the workplace have an Employee Assistance Program? Has the workers’ workload been lightened?  
Facility accessibility Are there private washing and changing facilities available? Are these close to the location of work? Are they stocked with sanitary products? 
TemperatureCan the worker adjust themselves or ask to have adjust the ventilation of the work area? Do uniforms and PPE reflect the worker’s needs? 
Work schedule Are rosters flexible to fit in needed bathroom breaks? Can start and end times be adjusted?
WorkloadCan the worker be provided lighter or different duties? Do manual handling assessment take menopause into account?
Physical environment Is there good natural light? Are there working humidifiers? Are noise levels too high? Is the worker able to move around or sit down when needed? 

If your employer is refusing to make reasonable arrangements to accommodate menopausal workers, then you may be facing discrimination. If you think that might be the case, contact your union straight away.

Cover photo credit: Buchen WANG on Unsplash

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