Menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce demographic and the support provided to them at work might make all the difference in getting the best out of them and thereby minimising the risk of a range of potential claims. Whilst, experiencing the menopause is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, women who suffer detrimental treatment as a result of menopausal symptoms can potentially bring a number of discrimination claims including, sex, age and disability discrimination. Other potential discrimination claims could also arise from mis-management of menopause symptoms, including failure to make reasonable adjustments and indirect discrimination.
Following a study, around 1 in 5 women have considered leaving their jobs when going through the menopause. The Faculty of Occupational Medicine estimates that almost half of women do not seek medical advice when going through the menopause and, the majority of women do not feel comfortable talking about the menopause with their line managers.
The ACAS 2019 guidance on menopause at work, reminds us that around two million women aged over 50 have difficulties at work due to their menopausal symptoms. The effects of menopause can lead to staff feeling ill, losing confidence to do their job or feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or fatigued.
The ACAS guidance provides the following tips for employers on ways to manage menopause at work:
- Create and implement a menopause policy.
- Provide awareness training for managers to deal with any concerns in a sensitive way.
- Create an open and trusted culture within the team.
- Make changes where possible, such as adjustments to working hours, or hybrid working.
- Signpost the range of support services and advice available.
- Encourage employees to engage with their GPs, or offer specialist support from occupational health.
Understanding that the menopause affects working women in a wide variety of ways is fundamental to providing the right support. Ensuring that any negative effects of menopause are neutralised as much as possible in the workplace is beneficial for productivity and creates and inclusive environment. Whilst still uncommon, having a well drafted menopause policy will offer a range of solutions for businesses helping to optimise productivity and employee relations.
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This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.