The British Standards Institute (BSI) has launched a new standard – BS30416 – to help employers manage menopause and menstrual health in the workplace, as well as to retain women in the workplace for longer, outlines Richard Holmes.
This follows recent findings from the Fawcett Society, which revealed that one in ten women who worked during menopause had left a job due to their symptoms – a figure rising to one in four for those experiencing more severe symptoms. In the same study, 80 percent of women said their employer hadn’t shared information, trained staff or put in place a menopause absence policy.
Menopause and menstrual health affect different women in different ways, and the majority of women, at some point, will inevitably find their work-life impacted by this.
With studies showing thousands of women leaving the workplace at this stage in their life, the new standard represents a clear-cut, crucial opportunity and responsibility for businesses to change their mindsets when it comes to supporting employees going through the menopause or dealing with menstrual health. Workers need to have time to deal with the mental load and physical effects of the menopause.
What is the new standard designed to do?
The new standard is designed to combat the loss of talented women in the workplace due to menopause and menstrual health. It looks to address some of the broader challenges and offer practical adjustments to help every colleague feel valued, motivated and able to remain in the workplace for longer.
The contents of the standard are informed by a panel of experts in menstruation, HR, occupational health, EDI, disability, legal and LGBTQ+ issues.
We have got to stop thinking about work in isolation. What happens at home affects work and vice versa. Responsible employers don’t ignore that – they acknowledge it and allow for it – and the BSI standard enables exactly that.
There are several measures employers can put in place to better support workers going through the menopause. For example, employers could consider a menopause policy, which clearly outlines the organisation’s stance on menopause and menstrual health, the help available and how employees can ask for additional support should they need it.
As part of this, employers could also create training programmes to help raise awareness for both employees and managers to understand the challenges faced at work by those experiencing symptoms as a result of menopause. Alongside this, businesses could also look to allow for more flexible ways of working, where possible, to allow employees to better handle symptoms.
After one year as a British Standard, the BSI plans to bring the new standard to the International Organisation Standardisation (ISO) to convert it into a global standard, which will promote better support for employees dealing with menopause and menstrual health in the workplace globally.
Fostering the right culture with HR policies that allow for the realities of life would give employees the freedom to take the time they need and get the necessary support, whatever issue they’re facing.
This does not just benefit employees. A work environment that reflects life’s realities and supports team members will lead to greater engagement, productivity and retention for the organisation.
Richard Holmes is the Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health.