The Gosport and Fareham Multi Academy Trust (GFM), which runs five schools in the area – Rowner Junior School, Brune Park Community School, Bay House School and Sixth Form, Gosport STEM Centre and LWS Academy – has issued new guidance on how to support staff going through the change amid concerns they might feel ‘embarrassed’ to talk about it.
This will include keeping fans in classrooms to combat hot flushes and making sure staff will get time off to attend medical appointments and have the opportunity to work part time while coping with symptoms.
Executive director of human resources for the trust, Marie Smith, who helped to create the guidance said the subject is not openly discussed in the workplace.
She said: ‘It is the small things that make a big difference. Being sympathetic to women’s experience and creating an environment that is open and honest is the very least we should expect.
‘There are lots of employment rights for protected groups and rightly so. I also believe this should extend to women, in this instance to those going through the menopause.
‘I am aware of the emotional and physical impact the perimenopause can have on colleagues and the strain that this can place on the body and on mental health.
‘It has become an off-limits subject in the workplace because many women feel embarrassed discussing it publicly.’
The average age of women reaching menopause is 51 although around one in 100 experience it before the age of 40.
An estimated 2.5 million women are currently going through the menopause in the UK.
‘Women are often criticised or made to feel inadequate if their performance drops off at work,’ Marie added.
‘It can lead to them giving up work or changing their job.
‘This is something that affects millions of women yet there is still a huge taboo. We need greater understanding and education for that to change.
‘It is menopause guidance in a sense but also it is aimed at extending rights and protection to often overlooked group in society.’
Symptoms of menopause include hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, headaches and heart palpitations.