Should employers pay for HRT to help with menopause?

Many going through menopause find their symptoms affect their work, yet hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could offer a potential solution.

In October, high-street retailer Timpsons caught media attention for offering to pay for menopausal employees’ HRT subscriptions.

According to NHS guidance, the treatment is extremely effective at relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, brain fog, joint pains and mood swings.

A campaign to cut the cost of HRT has also been successful in lobbying government for change, and at the end of October government moved to make repeat prescriptions of HRT just £18.50 per year instead of £9.35 each time in England.

For employers considering how to support menopausal employees, should HRT be part of it?

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According to Mark Simpson, a doctor and chief medical officer at Health Management an increasing number of UK businesses are offering the treatment in their benefits programmes.  

He told HR magazine: “HRT can offer considerable benefits to women experiencing menopause, and with the government now considering measures to reduce the cost of HRT prescriptions, more female employees could enjoy longer, healthier working lives.”

Geraldine Butler-Wright, chief people and culture officer at self-care app provider Healthily, applauded moves like that at Timpsons and added that all too often menopause support is dismissed as a ‘big company’ luxury or a trend.

“Do so at your peril,” Butler-Wright told HR magazine.

“Beyond diminishing your organisation’s diversity (age being a less-talked-about discriminator) you’re missing out on a precious group of experienced contributors who have much to offer.”

In a highly competitive talent market, she said organisations cannot afford to be flippant about the support they offer employees.

“They’re a compelling employer value proposition to not only attract and retain exceptional talent but also hold the potential to boost your brand in the eyes of consumers and investors,” Butler-Wright added.

Peppy Health is one in an emerging field of tech providers that offers health and wellbeing support for employees through a dedicated app.

With the attention given to menopause throughout 2021, Peppy CEO Mridula Pore said she is hopeful that employee support for the menopause could become the norm.

Speaking to HR magazine, Pore said: “Over the past year, we’ve seen workplace menopause support start to become the norm, rather than the exception. We believe a personalised, practical approach is what really helps.

“Support needs to be more than a tick-box exercise; it needs to be something tangible that really helps people in their day-to-day lives.”