Menopause in the Workplace

by Pat Duckworth

Bullying and harassment

Women going through the menopause (perimenopause) can be very sensitive about comments from colleagues referring to their menopausal symptoms. Some women report being misunderstood by younger colleagues and male co-workers. They may also perceive negative attitudes and criticism from managers when they raise the subject of menopause. All of this can lead to anxiety and lack of confidence and assertiveness.

In male-dominated workplaces, such as the police and the armed services, women have reported being reluctant to discuss symptoms or to seek support, for fear of seeming weaker than male colleagues.

Men sometimes refer to ‘women’s problems’ and make jokes about menopausal women, perhaps because they feel embarrassed. However, these types of comments and banter can be perceived as harassment or bullying. This could be seen as both ageist and sexist.

If this type of behaviour is not addressed by the manager, it can exacerbate the victim’s menopause symptoms, possibly leading to

  • Loss of self-esteem and confidence
  • A loss of performance at work
  • Poor sleep
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression.

The impact on the organisation can extend to

  • Loss of team morale
  • Lost productivity
  • Damage to reputation
  • Higher rates of sickness absence
  • Higher staff turnover
  • Litigation.

Managers need to ensure that they are aware of and enforce the regulations and implement procedures fairly.

For more advice, see Bullying and Harassment.