Penny Lancaster says she’s ‘deflated’ after latest menopause health update

This week saw the government reject calls for a trial of menopause work leave, leaving Penny Lancaster “deflated.”

The 51-year-old, who is an ambassador for the charity Wellbeing of Women, spoke of her disappointment during an appearance on Sky News. “I’m just deflated really,” Penny sighed when asked how she felt about the government’s decision not to put menopause leave in place.

“The sad thing is that if the workplace doesn’t help women with menopause, then they will start reducing their hours, they won’t consider promotion, and even go to the point where they will quit jobs because of the extreme symptoms that menopause can have,” Penny continued.

The trial scheme on menopause leave was recommended by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, but the government said this week that the proposal was not seen as ‘necessary’ and could turn out to be ‘counterproductive’.

Despite their decision, many people going through menopause leave their job as a result of debilitating symptoms, with a study of 4,000 women by Reference showing that 1 in 10 left their jobs due to their symptoms.

While we hope the government will reconsider its stance on menopause leave, there are ways to manage menopause in the workplace.

MORE: Why can’t I sleep during menopause: the real reason

How to navigate menopause in the workplace
1. Talk to your line manager
“Having an open conversation with work will help your colleagues or boss understand you’re not feeling your best and that it may impact your work,” says hormone specialist Dr. Sohere Roked, who has seen many patients leave the workplace over menopause symptoms.

HR professional Anna Whitehead agrees: “Being open about your perimenopause symptoms will allow your line manager to consider temporary adjustments to your role that will support you.”

READ: Flexible working arrangements for women in menopause: new guidelines

“If people understand you’re being impacted by physiological changes perhaps there’s scope for working more flexibility, changing your hours, or doing different activities in the workplace,” adds Dr. Sohere.

2. Explain *exactly* how perimenopause is impacting your work
Perimenopause impacts everyone differently, so make sure you’re clear on how it’s impacting you, be it feeling too hot in the office, struggling to maintain concentration in meetings or experiencing tiredness after a bad night’s sleep

“It’s helpful to explain how perimenopause is affecting you personally, whether that’s lack of sleep, poor focus or irritability in meetings,” confirms Dr. Sohere.

3. Explain adjustments you need
“Everyone experiences perimenopause differently so the adjustments will vary with each individual,” Anna explains.

“Explain what help you’re seeking and also state what would make your working life more comfortable, perhaps working from home some days or delegating some of your tasks for now,” Dr. Sohere suggests.

Employers have a duty of care to consider requests for adjustments at work, says Anna. “You can also ask your GP to provide a fit-note that suggests adjustments at work that will help you. This can be very helpful for you and your line manager if you are uncertain about what will support you.

“The types of support could be a fan or move desks to sit in a cooler area, adjustments to uniform requirements, splitting a colleague’s lunch break so that you can take regular smaller breaks outside to keep energy levels up, temporary adjustments to working hours and flexibility to attend more frequent GP appointments. Permanent adjustments to working hours would be made through your company’s flexible working policy,” Anna advises.

HELLO! and charity Wellbeing of Women are calling on more employers to take positive action to make sure women going through the menopause are fully supported. The first step is to sign up to our Menopause Workplace Pledge.

In signing up to this pledge:

1. We recognise that the menopause is a workplace issue and women may need support
2. We will talk openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause
3. We commit to actively support our employees affected by the menopause

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