To coincide with World Menopause Day 2023, we discuss why the menopause is a workplace issue and share some key things employers can do to support workers.
Why is menopause a workplace issue?
Whilst menopause symptoms impact people in different ways, they can affect attendance, performance, conduct and relationships at work. Those with severe symptoms may feel unable to continue in their role.
Failure to manage menopause-related issues appropriately risks employment tribunal claims, including for unfair dismissal, discrimination, or harassment. There is also a risk of health and safety failings.
Good management of workers experiencing menopause symptoms could help to support them, which might result in business benefits, such as reduced sickness absence, increased productivity, loyalty, and staff retention. There could also be reputational benefits.
What can we do to support workers?
Promote a supportive environment and encourage open conversations
Staff might not wish to discuss menopause at work, however steps that can help with this include:
- 'Normalising' menopause discussions and creating an environment that encourages workers to raise issues and seek support (via e.g., menopause policies and training).
- Having dedicated personnel that individuals can speak to for advice or support, such as HR colleagues, or menopause champions.
- Creating clear pathways for workers to access information and support.
- Ensuring line managers have a degree of training.
Think about working conditions and health & safety
Consider your health and safety obligations to workers, and whether you can reduce or remove any risks associated with menopause symptoms.
If you are aware a worker is experiencing menopause symptoms, discuss with them any potential support options or changes that could help them such as temperature and ventilation control; adequate breaks; flexible working; changes to work allocation; and counselling support.
Although not all workers experiencing menopause symptoms will be disabled, some might be where their symptoms are particularly severe. If a worker is disabled, you will need to consider your duty to make reasonable adjustments. In practice, however, it is better to focus on putting appropriate support in place for all affected workers, rather than trying to work out if individuals meet the legal definition of disability.
Consider introducing a menopause at work policy
A menopause policy can help to raise awareness, show your commitment to supporting workers and signpost support options. If introducing a policy, remember your duty to inform and consult with workers, or their representatives, on health and safety matters. Workbox subscribers can access our example menopause policy here.
It's important to be aware that although menopause is not itself a protected characteristic under discrimination law, when managing staff experiencing menopause symptoms, there is a risk of discrimination claims on the grounds of age, disability, sex and gender reassignment.
Workbox by Brodies
Workbox by Brodies subscribers can find detailed guidance on the issues highlighted in this blog, along with an example menopause policy here. To find out more about Workbox, or to arrange a free online demo of the site, please get in touch with the Workbox team.
Webinar: on demand
Our webinar 'Menopause - employer policy and the treatment of older women at work' is now available to listen to on-demand. In this session partners Lynne Marr and Joan Cradden discussed:
- the current legal framework for the protection of menopausal women at work and potential future development
- the use and content of employer menopause policies, and
- some practical thoughts on the introduction of policy and treatment of older women in work.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues discussed in this blog, our webinar or Workbox page, please get in touch with a member of Brodies employment and immigration team.