'Landmark guidance' | BSI shares new workplace standards for menstruation and menopause

BSI shares new workplace standards for menstruation and menopause

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has launched new standards for menstruation and menopause in the workplace, encouraging businesses to pay attention to workers who face symptoms associated with reproductive health.

The Menstruation, Menstrual Health and Menopause in the Workplace standard outlines practical suggestions and workplace adjustments employers can use.

Recommendations include suitable training for managers and HR leaders, discrete quiet spaces and changing rooms, options to work flexibly and considerations of whether your workplace is an educated and safe space when it comes to menstrual health.

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“I am truly delighted that the BSI have produced the Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace standard, recognising the challenges, symptoms and experiences of both menopause & menstrual health and how these can affect women in the workplace,” says Helen Tomlinson, Menopause Employment Champion for the UK Government.

“It’s a free resource for any organisation, large or small across all sectors, to be able to utilise. This will go a long way to ensure that everyone can receive the support they need at this critical time."

Retaining staff through inclusivity

The standard’s introduction follows research from The Fawcett Society which revealed 10 per cent of employees leave work due to menopause-related symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and insomnia. The BSI says the new rules will help organisations retain talented staff.

Anne Hayes, Director of Sectors, BSI, said: “I am proud BSI is publishing this landmark guidance on Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace, to help employers retain talented people whatever stage of life they are in. Organisations which prioritise their people by building an inclusive workplace will be best placed to continue to thrive in the future.”

Building an organisation based on inclusivity where suffering workers feel recognised can lead to greater levels of employee retention, happiness and productivity. Hayes continues: “There is no one-size-fits-all experience of menopause, but the data suggests thousands of women are leaving the workforce at this stage, contributing to significant productivity losses, robbing organizations of talented people, and removing mentors who can draw on their experience to support newer members of staff. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Accelerating equity

This standard highlights that people who face disruptions to their work because of menstrual health may have to sacrifice career progression, and have historically faced feeling misunderstood. 

Tomlinson continues: “I firmly believe this transition isn’t a time to step back, step down or step out. If we get this right for 50 per cent of the population that we need in the workplace from an economic and experience perspective it has the potential to make the final 10, 15 or 20 years of a woman’s career the most productive, exciting and meaningful.”

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Indeed, these new rules usher in a period of inclusivity for these workers, dismantling stigma around, and demystifying, menstrual health.

Matt Russell, CEO at employee benefits tech company Zest, comments: “Flexible and personalised support strategies are vital to a more holistic approach to improving the modern employee experiences. A new menopause and menstruation standard will not only provide much-needed support for a group of employees who have long been overlooked but will also boost the number of women remaining in the workplace over the long-term, which is essential during the cost-of-living crisis.”

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