Menopause in the workplace – guidance for employers
The Government has published a policy paper setting out the Menopause Employment Champion’s plan to improve menopause in the workplace support.
‘No Time to Step Back: the government’s Menopause Employment Champion’ sets out the four-point plan, as follows:
- Sharing of employer best practice (within sectors) on a portal that is accessible to all employers whether large or small, free of charge.
- A national sector-specific allyship programme which ensures no one is isolated and everyone has someone available to talk to.
- Menopause-friendly employers who will support, share, and advocate across their sector – retaining and attracting talent to the sector; and
- A communications plan to improve the working lives of women in their sector, achieved by amplification through strategic partnerships.
The paper states that key to the plan is the development of menopause resources and guidance for employers and employees. This is hosted on the Government’s ‘Help to Grow’ website, launched this month to coincide with World Menopause Day and Menopause Awareness Month. The paper also gives examples of steps that some employers are taking to support women in the workplace experiencing menopause.
Employment law risks
The policy paper reminds employers that ‘supporting menopausal women is not only the right thing to do, but research shows that multi-generational diverse workforces are more productive.’ In addition, recent case law serves as a reminder to employers of the risks involved in failing to support women in the workplace.
We reported earlier this year on a case in which the Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed for the first time that menopausal symptoms can amount to a disability. The case is now due to be heard by the Employment Tribunal to consider whether the employee was discriminated against, harassed and victimised by her employer on the grounds of her disability and sex. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has intervened to help support the employee with her claim and will soon be launching new guidance for employers to help them support women who are going through the menopause.
In another Employment Tribunal claim earlier this year, an employee succeeded in her claim for unfair dismissal and harassment on the grounds of sex after she resigned following comments made to her by her employer. These included telling the employee, who was experiencing menopausal symptoms, that menopause was her ‘excuse for everything’ and that she should just ‘get on with it’. The employee was awarded compensation for the unfair dismissal and £10,000 for injury to feelings plus interest in respect of the harassment.
As the Government’s policy paper points out, “with close to four million women aged 45-55 employed in the UK and women over 50 representing the fastest growing segment of the workforce, there are few workplaces where menopause is not being experienced by staff.” It reports that according to research, one in six women aged 40-60 report they have considered leaving work due to a lack of support in relation to their menopausal symptoms.
Employers should be aware of their obligations to employees under the Equality Act, and the developing guidance available to help them support women in the workplace experiencing menopausal symptoms.
We can provide bespoke equality awareness training in your workplace for managers. Contact us to find out more.
24 October 2023
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