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Make the workplace more menopause-friendly

October 18, 2021
Leeanda Smith
Women's Coordinator

World Menopause Day is held every year on the 18 October to raise awareness about menopause and the support options available for improving health and wellbeing.

The International Menopause Society’s theme this year is Bone Health. Osteoporosis and associated fractures, including fragility fractures, are the most common chronic metabolic bone disease and represent a major global health problem, contributing to 8.9 million fractures worldwide on an annual basis.

The International Menopause Society’s past president Professor Susan Davis (Monash University) recently discussed the importance of World Menopause Day and its role in alleviating remaining unmet needs in menopause awareness.

In a position statement by the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) employers, managers, healthcare professionals and women are encouraged to make the workplace environment more menopause supportive to improve women's wellbeing and their ability to remain in work.

Worldwide there are 657 million women aged 45–59 and around half contribute to the labour force during their menopausal years. The EMAS research found there is a diversity of experience of menopause in the workplace. This is shaped not only by menopausal symptoms and context but also by the workplace environment and how it affects quality of life, engagement, performance, motivation and relations with employers.

EMAS recommends the establishment of workplace health and wellbeing frameworks and policies “that should incorporate menopausal health as part of the wider context of gender and age equality and reproductive and post-reproductive health”. Moreover, workplaces should create “an open, inclusive and supportive culture regarding menopause, involving, if available, occupational health professionals and human resource managers working together”.

Discrimination

The EMAS research found that the effect of the symptoms of menopause can lead to a reduction of working hours, underemployment or unemployment, and consequently financial insecurity in later life. The paper states emphatically that women should not be discriminated against, marginalised or dismissed because of menopausal symptoms and calls on health and allied health professionals to recognise that, for some women, menopausal symptoms can adversely affect the ability to work. In many instances this is compounded by age discrimination.

If you are subjected to or witness discrimination do not allow the situation to continue. Federation’s information leaflet TR8 — Discrimination provides advice on how to act, including:

  • tell the person that their behaviour is inappropriate and that it must stop
  • document the dates and circumstances of the perceived discrimination
  • obtain advice from Professional Support about how to lodge a formal complaint

Management and treatment of menopausal symptoms will depend on the individual, their stage of life, relationships, general level of health and wellbeing. You should consult your doctor about symptoms and treatment options and remember to check for bone health.

Other references

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© New South Wales Teachers Federation. All Rights Reserved.

Authorised by Maxine Sharkey, General Secretary, NSW Teachers Federation, 23-33 Mary St. Surry Hills NSW 2010

Privacy Policy