A new workplace standard has been launched for businesses to support employees experiencing menopause or menstruation.
The British Standards Institute (BSI) has published new guidance to help organisations retain experienced and talented staff after consultation with experts and the public.
The Menstruation, Menstrual Health and Menopause in the Workplace Standard (BS 30416) sets out practical recommendations for workplace adjustments and strategies to help employers meet the needs of those experiencing menopause or menstruation.
It comes after research from the Fawcett Society suggested about 10% of those experiencing menopause have left the workplace due to symptoms such as hot flushes, dizziness, insomnia, and muscle and joint stiffness.
This figure rises to 25% for those with more severe symptoms.
Businesses in support
Wm Morrison and BT, representatives from Unison, the Federation of Small Businesses, the LGBT Foundation, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the Daisy Network and Endometriosis UK all contributed to the development of BS 30416.
The recommendations include workplaces considering whether there is a general awareness of menstruation and menopause in its culture and whether employees have opportunities for open conversations or to request support.
Suitable training for line managers and HR managers, reviewing the workplace environment to include facilities such as quiet recovery spaces or discrete changing rooms, and options for flexible working are also among the guidance.
One size doesn’t fit all
Anne Hayes, director of sectors at the BSI, said: “Organisations which prioritise their people by building an inclusive workplace will be best placed to continue to thrive in the future.
“There is no one-size-fits-all experience of menopause, but the data suggests thousands of women are leaving the workforce at this stage, contributing to significant productivity losses, robbing organisations of talented people, and removing mentors who can draw on their experience to support newer staff members. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
Helen Tomlinson, menopause employment champion for the UK Government, said: “I am truly delighted that the BSI have produced the Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace standard, recognising the challenges, symptoms and experiences of both menopause and menstrual health and how these can affect women in the workplace.
“It’s a free resource for any organisation, large or small across all sectors, to be able to utilise. This will go a long way to ensure everyone can receive the support they need at this critical time.
“I firmly believe this transition isn’t a time to step back, step down or step out. If we get this right for 50% of the population that we need in the workplace from an economic and experience perspective, it has the potential to make the final 10, 15 or 20 years of a woman’s career the most productive, exciting and meaningful.”
Commenting on the news, Matt Russell, CEO of Zest, said: “Flexible and personalised support strategies are vital to a more holistic approach to improving the modern employee experiences.
“A new menopause and menstruation standard will not only provide much-needed support for a group of employees who have long been overlooked but will also boost the number of women remaining in the workplace over the long term, which is essential during the cost of living crisis.
“Approaches such as this also allow innovative organisations to demonstrate more effective employee benefits and support programmes which can help attract, motivate and retain talented people – providing access to tailored support tools and benefits more generally is increasingly viewed as the bare minimum by employees.”