With endometriosis impacting over 1.5 million people in the UK, Rozie Corbett from Endometriosis UK guides us through how to support those with the condition in the workplace.
In the UK, we are getting more comfortable talking about health at work – but millions of women still say they would be concerned about discussing menstrual health issues with their employers.
The taboo is still there, and while it is, there’s a risk of those with endometriosis – a disease which affects one in 10 women and those assigned female at birth – feeling that they must suffer in silence.
More need to be done to address this stigma
Our recent research shows that most young women would be concerned discussing menstrual health with their employer if they were taking time off due to painful periods and chronic pelvic pain. This is despite a shift towards more openness around health at work. In the UK, 46% of people have said that Covid-19 has meant they are now more likely to discuss their health and wellbeing openly at work.
It’s great that more of us are happy to discuss health and wellbeing at work. These figures however do indicate that, for those with endometriosis and other menstrual health conditions, more needs to be done to address the long-standing stigma around periods and menstrual health.
So, what can employers do to support those with endometriosis at work?
Since it was launched in 2019, organisations of all sizes and from all sectors have taken action by joining our Endometriosis Friendly Employer scheme. They are now tackling the taboos associated with menstrual health and developing a work environment that enables employees with endometriosis to thrive at work.
Employers on the scheme are supported to identify and take the necessary steps for to be more endometriosis friendly. For some organisations, this includes things like reviewing flexible working or sick leave policies. This ensure that workplace practices are supportive of those with endometriosis and menstrual health conditions. For others, it’s about normalising conversations about menstrual health in the workplace. This could be through staff talks or internal information sharing on menstrual health. Others have taken steps to create a more supportive environment and increase understanding. This includes training line managers on endometriosis and menstrual health, or appointing workplace Endometriosis Champions to signpost to information and support.
Neil Morrison, from water company Severn Trent, recently shared how being an Endometriosis Friendly Employer has helped employees, and the steps the company has taken to be more endometriosis-friendly:
“As conversations surrounding endometriosis have ramped up both within our business and across wider society, we’ve begun to notice just how many of our colleagues are actually affected, whether directly or through their family or friends.
“We have a duty of care to make sure everyone is aware of the condition and understands the impact it may have on colleagues, particularly during the working day. We’re proud to have signed up to the Endometriosis Friendly Employer Scheme to offer the best support possible to those affected and have put together a guide for colleagues to refer to, hosted an internal podcast and started conversations to help break down the taboo around endometriosis and menstrual health.”
Ready to be an endo-friendly employer?
Companies tackling the taboo around menstrual health are taking a great step forward for their staff, organisation, and society. You can learn more about the Endometriosis Friendly Employer Scheme and how to get involved here.
Thanks to Rozie Corbett from Endometriosis UK for providing this post. We’re proud to support Endometriosis UK through our workplace scheme. You can learn more about how our scheme works here. Alternatively, for more from Endometriosis UK, check out their website.