As businesses improve their parental and miscarriage leave policies, there’s a personal topic that affects half of the population but remains taboo: menopause.
A survey of 4000 Aussies, three-quarters of whom have experienced menopause, highlights the challenges it can pose in the workplace. But many don’t support additional sick leave for those affected.
Last week global foods giant Kellogg’s announced it will offer UK staff fertility, menopause and miscarriage leave.
Managers at Kellogg’s will also reportedly be trained on how to talk about topics such as menopause and pregnancy loss. Those making use of paid leave for pregnancy loss will also not need to provide a doctor’s note.
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The new policies are intended to create a culture in which people feel “psychologically safe” Kellogg’s European vice president for human resources Sam Thomas-Berry reportedly said.
“Many people experience these issues, and the impact can be both physical and mental, but they aren’t discussed widely in the workplace.”
The news follows several announcements from Aussie companies improving their personal leave policies.
While family-centric policies are becoming more common, challenges surrounding menopause are still often overlooked.
Research from healthcare brand Flordis Femular found that 18% of people experiencing menopause have had to adjust their work practices to manage symptoms.
Of those, 57% said they experienced hot flushes, 47% experienced sweating, 48% experienced sleeplessness and 42% experienced mood swings.
About a third (28%) said they had to take additional doctor’s appointments within work hours, and 40% said they needed to take time off.
However while 68% of women believe anyone experiencing menopause should be able to access extra sick leave, only 45% of men agree.
The research also raised concerns about communication in the office. Some 46% of respondents who have experienced menopause said they were not comfortable talking openly with their manager or colleagues about symptoms.
Of those that had to make adjustments to the way they work, 24% said they felt the need to lie about why.
In a statement, women’s health and reproduction educator Natasha Andreadis noted that there are relatively simple changes workplaces can make to become more ‘menopause-friendly’.
About three-quarters of those who have experienced menopause would welcome flexible hours, for example, and a third would like to see their dress code relaxed.
“Although Australians are divided on the issue of extra support for women going through menopause, it is clear that many women are seeking change and more action needs to be taken to support women through this pivotal time in their lives,” Andreadis said.