Scrase Law Employment Solicitors

Should employers have a menopause policy?

ACAS has published guidelines for employers to help manage the impact of the menopause at work. 

ACAS reports that around two million women aged over 50 have difficulties at work due to their menopause symptoms; and that the effects of the menopause can lead to staff feeling ill, losing confidence to do their job or feeling stressed, anxious or depressed.

The new guidance seeks to give tips for employees on how to raise any concerns and suggests good practice for employers to help manage menopause at work.

Tips include:

  • Make sure health and safety checks are suitable – which includes ensuring that menopausal symptoms are not made worse by the workplace and making changes to help an employee manage their symptoms when doing their job;
  • Develop a policy and train managers – to make sure that they understand how to have a conversation with an employee raising a menopause concern and what support and/or changes might be appropriate;
  • Give an employee the option of talking initially to someone other than their manager – this might include a member of HR; a counsellor from the employer’s employee assistance programme; or a menopause or wellbeing champion;
  • Carefully manage sickness absence or a dip in job performance – including being prepared to make changes to help the employee continue to work and minimise, reduce or remove any dips in their job performance because of symptoms;
  • Consider having a menopause or wellbeing champion in the workplace – this person could be a point of contact for both employees and managers who need advice or someone to talk to;
  • Know how to talk about the menopause – including ensuring that this is confidential, friendly, honest and in private;
  • Agree changes at work – these could include providing a fan, moving a worker’s desk close to a window that opens, or allowing a worker to take breaks.

Comment

The menopause is not in itself a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.  However, an employer’s treatment of staff undergoing the menopause can potentially give rise to allegations of discrimination.  This could potentially be on the grounds of sex, disability or age, depending on the treatment complained of.

Both employers and employees may find the menopause a difficult topic to discuss.  It is, however, important that employers are aware of the issues and that employees who raise menopause related symptoms or concerns are treated sensitively and fairly.

We can provide bespoke equality awareness training in your workplace for managers. Contact us to find out more.

08 November 2019

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