Menopause in the Workplace (An Unflinching, Alternative and Slightly Sweary Guide)

A friend recently sent me her company's newly-developed 'Menopause Policy'. 'How enlightened!' I thought. Until I read it. Six pages of twaddle with only one meaningful tangible item of support. And when I say meaningful, I mean this: “Menopausal women can be offered a fan as long as it is environmentally friendly.” That was it. Clearly, they had not actually consulted with any menopausal women otherwise I feel the policy may have looked very different!

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So, as a free gift to all the HRs out there, I have developed Meaningful Menopause Guidance Plan that you are welcome to copy and paste into your existing HR policy documentation - saving you time and money that you can spend on providing free wine to Menopausal Women at the end of each shift.

Here we go...

Menopausal Women at Work: A Brace Yerself Guide For Managers

Introduction:
The menopause can affect how a woman performs her work and her relationships with colleagues. For example, she sometimes may just not be arsed to work; particularly if she has been up all night with hot flushes. Warning: she may, on occasion, refer to her colleagues using offensive terms, some of which you may never have heard a previously respectable woman say. Some may even make your eyes water. For the purposes of this guide, we have used the word ‘eedjit’, a proud Scottish slang word which encompasses all ‘A**-H**e’, ‘C**t’ and ‘D***H**d’ words which may be used by an angry menopausal woman. 

Guidance:
All managers must adhere to the following guidance:

Cases of minor misconduct or unsatisfactory performance are best ignored. If, using the case above as an example, the menopausal woman does refer to a colleague in a derogatory tone, pause to consider whether this is perhaps justified, and that colleague is indeed an eedjit... In fact, you may want to use this opportunity to remove all eedjits from your team? Honesty is one of the huge benefits you can reap from a menopausal woman. If you want pure, 360-degree feedback, then rather than refer to the made-up crap your subordinates write - just in case you can track it back to them - simply ask the menopausal woman. 

More serious cases such as posting “XYZ company is full of eedjits” on social media is probably due to mitigating circumstances such as hormonal fluctuations and sleep depravation. Therefore the usual social media rules should be relaxed for the menopausal woman. Indeed, firewalls should be removed from their log-ons to enable them to talk on support forums when they feel the need and to order expensive shoes should that be necessary, as both can be a great support at this time of change.

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Central to this policy is the ownership of temperature control - it should be handed entirely over to the menopausal woman. If others in the office complain that it is too cold, then they should be asked to wear a jumper. It is imperative that the menopausal woman is able to regulate the temperature around her as there is naff all she can do about the raging inferno inside her. If budget permits, then for a fee, Sam Heughan and/or Helen Mirren can be employed to waft large palm leaves as and when required.

Headphones and access to carefully selected Spotify playlists should be provided, with tissues, in case they cause a hormonal woman to become emotional when they realise every line means something to her. Nothing by Adele as it might make them sob uncontrollably, nothing by Eminem as it might make them angry, and nothing by Kanye West as he is an eedjit. A focus group will be created to come up with acceptable songs for inclusion. This Girl is on Fire and Hot Stuff are two examples of tunes that may be suitable.

If the menopausal woman is expected to wear a uniform then it must be adaptable. If she would prefer to wear a loose smock with Birkenstocks rather than pour herself into a tight skirt and blazer then this should be accommodated. Indeed, she may choose to simply come to work in her pyjamas and this should not be discouraged as it is entirely appropriate at this time of life. A bra is unlikely to be worn - not in a sexy Kardashian way but more in a boobs-swinging-round-the-waist kind of way - and this should be considered totally appropriate.

Exceptional circumstances should be considered and responded to appropriately. For example, a menopausal woman may find it beneficial to just bugger off from everyone and everything and sit on a beach in Greece either to write bad poetry by herself or to shag the waiter like in Shirley Valentine. Every menopausal woman is different, so there are no structured guidelines around this, but we would suggest a 3-month menopausal career break on full pay as a minimum standard. This leave may not be shared with a partner even if they beg - it isn't about them. They can sort their own manopause out (if you haven't heard of it, it's a bit like man-flu but with motorbikes)

Fully flexible working should be encouraged as it is very likely that the menopausal woman will only find a cure for her insomnia three seconds before the alarm goes off. So it is best if she can simply hit the off button and return to sleep til she feels able to come in. Or just work at home watching Loose Women if she feels that would be a more supportive environment.

Organisations would be well advised to review their benefits and perks policy. It is a cruel truth that as the menopausal woman's eyesight starts to deteriorate her facial hair will start to increase. Laser eye surgery should therefore be offered as a tax-free benefit as well as high quality tweezers. Tena ladies should join the sanitary protection in the toilets and vodka should join the chocolate in the vending machines. Note - JOIN - not replace.

Mandatory Male Empathy Training Courses

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Mandatory training will be given to male managers to help them implement this policy. There will be course work - which is likely to involve being kept awake all night by an incessant chatter in their ear about every little thing they ever did wrong or messed up in their life. They will need to dress in their warmest vest and coat, then twice a night their electric blanket will be turned to full, so they can decide whether to just lie in it or get up and change fully, before experiencing exactly the same thing two hours later. The next day they will attend a full day immersion session to enable them to fully empathise with the menopausal woman. Such sessions are not restricted to, but will most likely include: standing in front of an industrial oven on full blast for 15 mins 4 times during the day to develop empathy for the hot flush - followed by time in a sealed room filled with midgies to experience that unbearable itching feeling. A temporary full-frontal lobotomy will be given at the end of the course and not reversed for 24 hours so the manager can experience brain fog and forgetfulness first-hand. Additional places will be made available for husbands and partners where required. It is recognised that additional training in conflict resolution may be required; this will be an optional module that we advise most managers to take up.

We believe these measures set the tone for a positive working environment for the menopausal woman. To ensure the long-term success of this policy any transgressions will be dealt with by a forum of menopausal woman headed by Big Mags who is permanently ‘hangry’ in her effort to get rid of the menopausal midriff - this also keeps her focussed on the importance of dealing with any infringements of due process.

Menopausal ambassadors will be around to help where required, with stocks of hankies; numbers for therapists (six sessions provided free of charge); vouchers for plus size stores; wine; chocolate and access to the menopause room which is equipped with cool, comfortable beds that rock you gently to sleep when you need it most.

The End

Managers and Companies Everywhere - you are WELCOME! No charge – simply make a donation of a bottle of wine or gin or large box of chocolates to the next menopausal woman you meet.

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Jennifer Kennedy 

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