Do you talk about menopause enough in your office? If you employ women aged between 45 and 55, and the issue doesn’t really come up, then the answer is no. Recent statistics from the employment tribunal show that more women are citing menopause in employment tribunal claims for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination than ever before. Menopause can also be a disability if it meets the legal test – if symptoms are long lasting and have a substantial adverse effect on an employee’s ability to day-to-day activities – meaning reasonable adjustments must be made. In 2018, there were five employment tribunal cases which cited menopause; in the first half of 2021 there were 10. These figures are still small but remember when equal pay cases could be measured in single figures? And look how that kind of litigation snowballed.
Employers shouldn’t wait for the appeal courts to give guidance on this issue. Menopause can cause a wide range of debilitating and unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can have a huge impact on employee performance and attendance, so help and support is good for both staff and business. Menopause policies can help to break the taboo and make it easier for employees to talk about the issue at work. A good policy will:
- Give information about what the menopause is and the different ways it can affect women.
- Encourage open conversations on the issue in the workplace.
- Set out the importance of workplace risk assessments to support the health and wellbeing of women going through the menopause.
- Propose specific support and adjustments for common symptoms to help guide managers and employees.
- Act as a prompt for training and education for managers and a guide for what to do when an employee seeks help
These policies aren’t rocket science. They are a conversation starter and a helpful guide for everyone to follow. Menopause is something which happens to half the population which means it could happen to half of your workers. We need to stop being squeamish and start talking about it.
Find out how we can help. Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department. Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].