The British Standards Institute (BSI) has released a new guide, BS30416, which aims at helping organisations manage menopause and menstrual health in the workplace. Developed in collaboration with major employers like Morrisons and BT, as well as unions, health and safety bodies, and charities, this national technical standard provides examples of best practices for employers, covering policies, work design, workplace culture, and the physical environment.
How Will the Guide Help Menstrual Health?
One of the first things the guide talks about is “why this topic is being addressed now”. Menstrual health is nothing new and has been talked about, especially in the workplace context, for a few years now. A lot of importance is being placed on educating people about menstruation, menopause and other aspects of menstrual health as it is affecting the skills and talent in most organisations.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers have to reasonably ensure the welfare of all employees. And so, this guide lists not just ways to improve the welfare of employees who go through menstruation and menopause but also makes people aware of the issues they face.
One of the most interesting aspects of the guide is the responses to myths surrounding menstrual health. For example, one of the myths is that “menopause only has an impact on women above the age of 45”. This has been debunked by BSI as they inform readers that while it does happen to older women, the effect of menopause can start naturally (or at times, through medical intervention) even before 40. Moreover, trans men and non-binary people can also experience menopause.
Furthermore, BSI lists a range of questions that this guide can answer such as what work design can provide most support or how organisations can support trans and non-binary people. The guide will also help understand symptoms that might make themselves known due to underlying health issues.
“Conversations Have Transformational Power“
This guide could not have come at a better time as the conversations around menstrual health are increasing at a rapid pace. In March 2023, Helen Tomlinson was appointed as the new Menopause Employment Champion by the Department for Work and Pensions. As part of her role, she is urging organisations to develop policies that support the menstrual health of employees.
In a press release by the Government, which announced her new role, she said “I have witnessed the transformational power that opening up conversations on menopause can have in a workplace. By creating safe spaces by educating management and creating allies across workforces, women can be supported and empowered to manage their symptoms and thrive in work”.
Mims Davies MP, who will be closely working with Helen, further added “Working positively with employers is vital to ensure they can recruit and retain women experiencing menopause and stop women perhaps considering giving up their employment due to the impact”.
In a separate press release, the Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) said “This new standard is a step in the right direction. We are keen to ensure that businesses take it on board and use it as part of a rounded approach to managing occupational health risks. Doing so can have huge benefits for both the businesses themselves and their people”.
You can read more about the new standard and download it here