Menopause and perimenopause can cause symptoms like anxiety, sleeping issues, mood swings, problems with memory or concentration, hot flushes, headaches or migraines, muscle aches, joint pains, and irregular periods. These symptoms can last several months or years or change over time and can have a significant impact on women’s personal lives, their relationships and work.
In July 2022, the Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons published a report that highlighted how the law, at that time, did not protect working women with menopausal issues, with many experienced and talented women at the peak of their careers having to leave their employment, impacting on the UK economy. As a consequence, they made a number of recommendations to support working women with menopausal issues.
Although the Government is not willing to add menopause as a defined disability under the Equality Act 2010, case law suggests that the employee is protected and if the employer ignores a working woman’s menopausal issues, they could be subject to substantial disability discrimination damages claim as well as sex discrimination claim if treated unfavourably.
The Government’s focus appears to be on encouraging employers to be compassionate and flexible about menopausal issues faced by working women, including for employers to implement workplace menopause policies with flexible working patterns as the default option unless there are good reasons not to do so (not the law yet).
Furthermore, the Government is, in principle, committed to appointing a Menopause Employment Champion who will provide guidance to employers on how to address menopause issues at work.
It is, however, very encouraging to see so many organisations now supporting menopause in the workplace and who view it as an important aspect of promoting diversity, inclusion, and employee well-being.
Raising awareness and providing education about menopause can eliminate stigma and foster a supportive environment. It goes without saying that putting policies like this in place can help attract and retain talent, not just for those who are experiencing symptoms of menopause, but also for younger members of staff who want a longstanding career with their employer.
Remember, every individual’s experience with menopause is unique, and it is essential to approach each situation with empathy, respect, and a willingness to accommodate individual needs. Regularly seek feedback from employees and adjust your approach based on their input to create a supportive and inclusive workplace for menopausal employees.
The team at HR2day can write and implement a menopause policy that will support your company’s requirements. Contact the team now on 01325 288 299 (opt. 2) or email us at [email protected].