The British Standards Institute (BSI) has released new guidance aimed at assisting organisations in supporting employees going through menopause or menstruation. The objective is to create an environment that enables the retention of experienced and talented individuals across all age groups.
The standard, titled “Menstruation, Menstrual Health, and Menopause in the Workplace” (BS 30416), has been published by BSI, the UK National Standards Body following consultations with experts and the general public. It provides practical recommendations for workplace adjustments and strategies to complement existing wellbeing initiatives, ensuring that organisations can cater to the needs of employees experiencing menopause or menstruation.
The primary goal of this guidance is to help organisations prioritise the wellbeing of their colleagues and address the potential loss of skilled workers who may be at the peak of their careers. Research conducted by the Fawcett Society indicates that an estimated 10% of women experiencing menopause have left the workforce due to symptoms ranging from hot flushes to dizziness, insomnia, muscle and joint stiffness. For those with more severe symptoms, the figure rises to 25%.
The economic impact of menopause-related productivity losses worldwide is already estimated to exceed $150 billion annually. Recognising that this issue will continue to grow as more women remain in the workforce for longer periods, BSI assembled a panel of experts to develop the standard. It is projected that by 2025, there could be over 1 billion people globally experiencing menopause, accounting for 12% of the world’s population.
BS 30416 has been specifically designed to help organisations identify misconceptions surrounding menstruation and peri/menopause, as well as address the negative impact that taboos associated with these topics can have on workplace support. The standard aims to provide employers with examples of best practices, encompassing policy guidance, work design, workplace culture, and physical aspects of work. Key considerations include:
- Assessing workplace culture to determine the level of general awareness regarding menstruation and menopause, and whether employees have opportunities for open conversations or can request support.
- Evaluating whether line managers and HR managers are adequately trained or provided with appropriate resources to understand the potential impact of menstruation and menopause.
- Reviewing the adequacy of the workplace environment, including factors such as proper control, availability of facilities like toilets, discreet changing rooms, or quiet recovery spaces that are easily accessible.
- Ensuring that relevant policies (e.g., wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, performance management, sickness and absences, flexible working) take into account menstruation and menopause.
- Considering whether work designs allow for individual flexibility. This may involve aspects such as scheduling, timing of breaks, comfort adjustments like access to cooling or heating facilities, and opportunities for sitting or stretching.
It is important to note that the guidance is designed to be flexible, recognising the significant variations in experiences related to menstruation and menopause, and acknowledging that not everyone may seek support from their employers.
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