Until recently, endometriosis was relatively unknown to the general public. It became a public health issue in its own right in January 2022, when the government presented a national strategy to provide a response to this problem, which affects
1 in 10 women of childbearing age in France. While the manifestations of the disease and its impact on work differ from woman to woman, they are real and should not be underestimated. Find out more from Emilie Fréchet, consultant with EQUILIBRES (Human & Work group).
Today, we know that a third of endometrioses stabilize and allow a quasi-normal life, while the remaining two-thirds evolve and can lead to more serious forms, with a real impact on work.
What impact can endometriosis have on work?
65% of women with endometriosis recognize a negative impact of the disease on their day-to-day professional life. They note, among other things, a reduction in their capacity to work and concentrate - linked to the pain that leads to fatigue - and a higher level of stress - perhaps linked, for example, to having to choose between an unforeseen professional event and a long-awaited follow-up medical appointment.
Given these consequences, what can we do?
People suffering from endometriosis can make an appointment with their occupational physician. Since our health has an impact on our day-to-day life at work, we can meet with our occupational physician at any time, who is, of course, bound by medical confidentiality. He or she may suggest adjustments to your workstation (a more ergonomic office chair, a desk close to the toilet), changes to your working hours (as we know, endometriosis attacks often occur at night, making it difficult to sleep), the possibility of teleworking, a change of position within the company if your current job requires too much physical effort...
Apply for recognition as a disabled worker by completing the appropriate file with your GP. Obtaining an recognition is the best way to benefit from workstation and schedule adjustments.
Applying for a part-time medical leave can help you to return to work after a period of illness or surgery. This is based on a proposal from the attending physician and the opinion of the Social Security doctor. The employer must also agree. Salary is paid on a pro rata basis according to the time spent on the job, supplemented by daily allowances from the French social security system to give a full salary.
Companies can also help employees with endometriosis, the french national strategy announced by the government in January 2022 stresses in particular the need to train healthcare professionals and fund more medical research on this subject, but makes no mention of the role that companies must play, which is nonetheless essential. So how can they support their employees with endometriosis?
Communicate on this theme, and more broadly on invisible disabilities. Remind employees what an invisible disability is, and what examples of workstation adjustments are available to employees recognized as disabled workers. Remind employees who are key players in the field of disability and disabling illnesses (ambassadors, referents, etc.). The communication strategy can also take the form of raising awareness among all employees.
Create working groups around the inclusion of people with disabilities or invisible disabilities: how can the company improve? What initiatives can be put in place?
Adjust organization and working conditions: offer ergonomic chairs to all on-site and telecommuting employees, show flexibility by facilitating telecommuting at least a certain number of days per week if possible, create a rest room (this space can be very practical while a medication is taking effect, for example!), make sure your company's toilets are equipped with sanitary protection, give employees suffering from incapacitating menstrual periods the possibility of taking menstrual leave.
On this subject, a bill on menstrual leave was passed in Spain in February 2023. In France, several French MPs from the socialist and ecologist camps have tabled a bill to this effect, for a period varying from two days a month to thirteen days a year, without loss of pay, after a medical certificate has been issued. For the time being, the bill has been rejected by the Senate, but this is not stopping a number of companies and public organizations from integrating this special leave into their HR policies. Goodays and the municipality of Saint-Ouen, France, for example, have made this choice, noting that there have been no abuses since its introduction.
in place. At Goodays, "of the 40% of women who make up the company's 100-strong workforce, five have asked to benefit, which corresponds roughly to the ratio of 10% of women in the French population who suffer from endometriosis", notes Goodays CEO Xavier Molinie.
Companies therefore have every interest in taking up the subject of endometriosis, by supporting their employees through an inclusive and innovative HR policy, in the service of their physical and mental well-being. Such initiatives encourage employee commitment and motivation at work, and by extension, overall corporate performance.