In July 2019, Gemma Dale, Wellbeing and Engagement Manager was invited to attend an SHS Athena SWAN meeting.

Gemma’s role has enabled her to work on various policies across the University from flexible working, to maternity leave and menopause support. Gemma felt that “people’s eyes need to be opened to the possibilities beyond simply ‘going part-time’ and that flexible working actually gets the best out of people”.


Flexible working:

What is it?

In the broadest sense, flexible working is anything that is not a standard full-time contract (in the University’s case, a 35-hour contract over 5 days). It can mean you work full time, but work flexibly, such as working from home, compressed hours, term-time only, flexi-time, traditional part-time, job shares – essentially anything that isn’t a standard Monday to Friday, 9-5pm.

So, who is flexible working for?

Flexible working can be for anyone. Many people feel that flexible working is only for parents, but this is not the case. There are many reasons someone might wish to submit a request for flexible working, including; parental responsibilities, caring responsibilities, wellbeing and sustainability, to name but a few.

Flexible Working at UoM

Gemma is focusing on making flexible working available for staff where possible across the University. This includes encouraging staff to opt for advertising full-time opportunities to include flexible working which is now included in a new section on the recruitment (PCM) form. Gemma also mentioned that she is working to make flexible working more consistent across the University so regardless of department or grade, flexible working should be an option for all that is evaluated on benefits/costs and what is viable for a job role.


How does flexible working tie in with menopause?

Three-quarters of women experience menopause symptoms which can include: hot flushes, palpitations, night sweats, sleep disturbance, fatigue, poor concentration/memory, irritability, mood disturbance, depression and anxiety, skin irritation and dryness. Menopausal symptoms can last from 4-8 years withone-quarter of women who experience symptoms potentially being classed as having “severe” symptoms.

Many women going through menopause feel that it negatively affects their job performance and that flexible working arrangements may be able to combat some of these issues especially when symptoms are severe. Other adjustments that can be made include; more regular breaks, flexibility around medical appointments, workplace fans or ventilation, and changing/washing facilities.


Further resources about menopause at work can be found on StaffNet here.

Guidance for Managers can be found here.


This blog post is based on SHS Athena SWAN meeting minutes from 15/07/2019 with guest speaker Gemma Dale.


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