Dealing with Menopause in the Workplace – two-fold increase in related claims
Approximately 13 million women in the UK are peri/post menopausal. The menopause process can take years and can result in substantial behavioural changes, physical symptoms and a negative effect on a woman’s mental health. According to independent research from the Nuffield Health Group, two thirds of women felt there was a general lack of understanding and support surrounding the menopause and almost half were experiencing depression.
The further results of a large-scale survey of menopausal women in the UK between the ages of 45-55 were published by The Fawcett Group earlier this year and showed the impact of the menopause on women from an employment perspective (1).
The survey found that:
- 44% of women said that their ability to do their job had been impacted by their symptoms;
- 41% of women said their menopause / menopausal symptoms had been treated as a joke by their colleagues; and
- 52% of women said they had lost confidence at work.
Whilst it is becoming more widely recognised that menopause can be an issue that employers need to be aware of, menopause related employment tribunal claims nearly doubled in 2021. For some employers, the menopause is a topic they still find uncomfortable discussing. It is no surprise therefore that their staff may not feel emotionally safe in raising concerns about the impact it might be having on them at work and seeking support.
The Menopause Experts Group has suggested that employers should offer their workforce training about symptoms, signs and side-effects of the menopause and that the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee should advocate for a requirement that all employers have a menopause policy or code of conduct.
The mistreatment of someone in the workplace linked to their menopause could well result in expensive sex discrimination claims and disability discrimination claims. It is therefore important that employers are open to educating themselves on the possible impact of the menopause on employees and seek to provide a supportive environment. This could include arranging some basic awareness training, especially for managers, and introducing a specific menopause policy in which staff can be advised on the impact of the menopause, encouraged to treat colleagues with respect and empowered to raise concerns about their own situation through the appropriate channels.
If you require any advice on this topic or would like help with implementing a menopause policy please contact Melanie Morton or your usual Freeths’ contact.
(1) Download the ‘menopause and the workplace’ survey PDF here.
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.
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