Today is World Menopause Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the menopause and the support options available for improving health and wellbeing.
The menopause is a natural part of aging which affects women; however, it can also affect transgender males and it occurs between the age of around 45 to 55. There are various symptoms associated with the menopause, some of which include: hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, problems with memory, concentration and low mood or anxiety. For some women, these symptoms can be mild however in other cases, they can be extreme and often debilitating.
Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce. It is understood that approximately 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work, with approximately 88% of women in work stating that they have felt that it has had an impact on working life.
It is therefore important for both employers and employees to gain a clear understanding of what the menopause is and how it can affect those who are suffering from it.
What can employers do?
Employers should take steps to raise awareness amongst all staff to improve knowledge and understanding on the topic. This could be as simple as putting up posters in communal areas, outlining briefly what the menopause is, when it occurs and the affect it can have. In addition, employers should encourage those who require any workplace adjustments to manage their symptoms, to request these from the appropriate individual within the company – ensuring that each request is dealt with sensitively.
Why is this important?
There has recently been a sharp rise in cases being brought to the Employment Tribunal which have referenced the menopause. Raising awareness on the topic could assist employers in avoiding potential claims that could be brought to the Employment Tribunal.
Whilst there is no distinct protection within the current framework of the Equality Act 2010, potential claims in the Employment Tribunal could include age, disability or sex discrimination, or a combination of all three.
How can employers protect their business?
To minimise the risk of claims, it would be advisable for employers to provide training to all managers and staff on equality and diversity and include information on the menopause, ensuring that all employees understand how the menopause can affect an individual and what support and changes might be appropriate. Additionally, employers should review the policies they currently have in place to ensure that they cater for those experiencing menopausal symptoms and also consider implementing a menopause policy.
Need further assistance?
If you have any queries on how to manage the menopause at work, want to update your company policies or have any other Employment Law or HR queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Employment team on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.
This alert does not provide a full statement of the law and readers are advised to take legal advice before taking any action based on the information contained herein.