Women battling symptoms of the menopause who work for NHS England are to be offered flexible working for the first time in a bid to keep them in the workforce.
Flexible breaks, working from home and shorter hours could all be offered to women who are struggling with the many physical symptoms of the menopause.
Difficulty sleeping, brain fog, increased anxiety, joint pain, hot flushes and numerous other health problems are all common to women, with symptoms often effecting them for months or even years.
Head of the health service, Amanda Pritchard, has issued national NHS guidance on menopause for the first time and said other employers should follow suit to help menopausal women “thrive” at work.
She said allowing menopausal women the flexibility when they are suffering and really need it will be a boost to the NHS workforce in the long run.
She told the Telegraph: “Menopause is not a health condition, it’s a stage of life, and I want all women facing this transition in the NHS to have access to the right support to stay in and thrive at work.
“Women approaching or going through menopause should not have to put up with feeling uncomfortable at work, or feel any shame in talking about a transition which is simply a part of life.
“Simple steps like flexible working patterns, fans to help make temperatures more comfortable, cooler uniforms, and staff training can make a big difference and I want to see this happening right across the board.”
A study from the Fawcett Society has found around 1 in 10 women end up being forced out of work because of a lack of support from their employer.
Chair of campaign group Menopause Mandate, Mariella Frostrup, said: “Regarding flexible working, should a woman feel that her symptoms are affecting her ability to do her job, then of course employers should support her in the same way they would should she be struggling with pregnancy.”
The NHS guidance is designed so it could be used across any workplace in any industry.