1. Statement

  1. The University of York is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion; the diversity of our community is an essential part of our values and enriches our environment.
  2. As stated in the University's Health and Wellbeing Plan 2019-2022, Creating a Thriving Workforce, the University is also committed to providing a healthy working environment and improving the quality of working life for all staff.
  3. The University is working on advancing gender equality and influencing change by creating a cultural transformation around gender and making the conversation around gender specific issues more open.
  4. The success of the University rests on the ability of all colleagues to contribute their very best at work. We believe this happens when we create a working environment in which individuals feel they can openly discuss their health and wellbeing and access support when they need it.
  5. There may be a substantial number of our colleagues who are experiencing peri-menopausal and menopause related symptoms which may be having an impact on their working lives.
  6. The University is seeking to create an environment where all staff feel confident enough to raise issues about their symptoms and ask for support at work and where managers feel confident in holding relevant conversations and providing — and signposting staff towards — appropriate support.

2. Aims

  1. To raise awareness of menopause related issues at work and in particular assist managers in supporting colleagues who are experiencing menopause and associated symptoms and enable staff to access the support they need.
  2. To foster an environment in which colleagues can openly and comfortably initiate conversations or engage in discussions about menopause.
  3. To educate and inform managers about the potential symptoms of menopause and how they can support work colleagues.
  4. To ensure that colleagues experiencing menopause symptoms feel confident to discuss it — if they wish to — and ask for support so they can continue to be successful in their roles. It is important to recognise that some colleagues may not want to discuss the menopause.
  5. Enable colleagues to attend work and contribute their best whilst experiencing menopausal symptoms.
  6. To work with University support services such as Estates, Cleaning Services, Health and Safety, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and the University's Employee Assistance Provider - Health Assured - to ensure the needs of colleagues experiencing menopause are taken into account.

3. Scope

  1. This guidance applies to all University staff.

4. Definitions

  1. Menopause is when periods stop (for 12 months) and the end of the natural reproductive life is reached. Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years old, with the average age being 51 however it can be earlier or later due to surgery, illness or other reasons.
  2. Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause when changes may be experienced and sometimes severe associated menopausal symptoms. This can be years before menopause and is often when most support is required.
  3. Post menopause is the time after menopause has occurred, starting when there has not been a period for 12 consecutive months.

5. Symptoms of menopause

  1. Not every individual will have every symptom or need help or support. However 75% do experience some symptoms whilst 25% could be classed as severe.
  2. Some of the most typical symptoms of menopause include:
    • Psychological issues such as mood disturbances, anxiety and/or depression, memory loss, panic attacks, loss of confidence and reduced concentration
    • Sleeplessness
    • Fatigue
    • Hot flushes (sudden surges or heat usually felt in the face, neck and chest)
    • Night sweats (hot flushes that happen during the night)
    • Irregular periods and/or bleeding that is very heavy and unpredictable
    • Muscle and joint stiffness, aches and pains
    • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
    • Headaches
    • Weight gain
    • Palpitations (heartbeats that become more noticeable)
    • Skin changes (dryness, acne, general itchiness)

6. Roles and responsibilities

6.1 Members of staff

All members of staff are responsible for:

  • Taking personal responsibility for their health and wellbeing seeking medical advice if necessary
  • Being honest in conversations with managers/HR and Occupational Health
  • Contributing to a respectful and productive working environment
  • Being willing to support colleagues
  • Understanding any changes at work which have been agreed to support their colleagues as a result of menopausal symptoms

6.2 Line managers

All line managers are responsible for:

  • Familiarising themselves with the Menopause Guidance
  • Being ready and willing to have open discussions about menopause, appreciating the personal nature of the conversation and treating it sensitively and professionally
  • Considering, with the member of staff, how best they can be supported including any requests to accommodate changes at work that may be helpful to manage symptoms
  • Ensuring ongoing dialogue
  • Ensuring that agreed actions are implemented

Where changes at work are accommodated but are unsuccessful or if symptoms are proving more problematic, the line manager may:

  • Discuss a referral to Occupational Health for further advice
  • Refer the member of staff to Occupational Health
  • Review Occupational Health advice and implement any recommendations where reasonably practicable
  • Continue to review
  • Consider temporary changes to the work environment or working arrangements

6.3 Occupational Health

The role of Occupational Health is to:

  • Carry out an holistic assessment of individuals as to whether or not menopause may be contributing to symptoms/impacting on health and wellbeing, providing advice and guidance in line with the latest research
  • Signpost managers and staff to appropriate sources of help and advice
  • Provide support to HR colleagues and line managers, advising on changes at work which may be considered
  • Monitor referrals due to menopausal symptoms and provide additional signposting if required
  • Provide summary reports of cases relating to menopausal symptoms
  • 6.4 Human Resources

    HR will:

    • Offer guidance to line managers on the interpretation of this guidance
    • Provide guidance to members of staff who have approached HR directly
    • Attend training sessions
    • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of this guidance in respect of related absence levels and performance
    • The University's Employee Assistance Provider, Health Assured, provides online support at: https://healthassuredeap.co.uk/menopause/

    7. Possible support or adjustments

    7.1 Some possible support or adjustments may include:

    7.1.1 Flexible working arrangements

    Consideration of the following for those experiencing severe symptoms:

    • Where the role permits, allow staff to work around their symptoms
    • Allowing time to rest and make the time up later
    • Permitting occasional home working when symptoms are severe
    • Adjusting start and finish times
    • Flexibility around the taking of breaks or increased breaks during the working day
    • Flexibility around attending relevant medical appointments
    • Changing/washing facilities
    • Expect to allow regular breaks during meetings, especially longer meetings

    7.1.2 Working environment

    Consideration of the following:

    • Facilitating a more comfortable working environment taking into account heating and lighting
    • Making desk fans easily available
    • Whether ventilation is sufficient or can be improved
    • Consideration of the proximity of washrooms
    • Use of campus prayer/contemplation facilities

    7.1.3 Uniforms

    Consideration of the following:

    • Where uniforms are provided consider natural fibres where possible
    • Provision of additional uniforms
    • Adjustment of uniform requirements