Our Associate Solicitor Anna Lovett provides some expert guidance for employers in respect of the menopause.
Everyone is talking about it… Nicola Sturgeon, Davina McCall, the Countess of Wessex, even Rod Stewart has come out to discuss the importance of men being educated about the menopause.
This is an issue that has impacting women since the dawn of time so why is it only being discussed now in the workplace.
According to the Office of National Statistics, menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce demographic. We have an aging population and with fewer entrants from education joining the workforce, so it is now more than ever, important that employers think more about their older workers and the skills and talent they bring to the organisation.
Whilst all women will go through menopause, all women will have a different experience.
Some symptoms of the menopause can be physical such as hot flushes, headaches, poor sleep and palpitations as well as psychological symptoms such as, anxiety, low mood, lack of confidence and poor concentration.
Many women who have experienced the menopause have reported that it has had an effect on their working life and sadly, around 6 in 10 had witnessed the issue being treated as a joke in the workplace.
A failure to address the issue and put adequate support in place is likely to lead to a loss of talent and skill as women choose to leave the workplace. It also opens the employer up to the risk of an employment tribunal claim. Claims relating to the menopause are on the rise with workers bringing claims under the Equality Act 2010 for discrimination on the grounds of sex, age and/or disability.
Managing the effect of the menopause is good business sense.
Investing in the relevant training and support for line managers now will have clear benefits and cost savings for the future:
- Cost of recruitment
- Cost of sickness absence
- Cost of employee relations issues and Employment Tribunals
What should businesses do?
The Government Equalities Report on Menopause highlights the need for employers to put in place training, processes and information so all workers have a clear understanding of menopause. The report also recommends introducing a range of reasonable adjustments. It is often the case that an individual only requires simple, low-cost support, such as a desk fan, an extra uniform or even just a supportive approach after a disrupted night of sleep. The line managers are key to this support and communication.
Our experience is that many line managers have not thought about the menopause as an issue and therefore do not feel confident talking about it with their teams, for the fear of ‘saying the wrong thing.’ Line managers don’t need to be medical experts, nor should they be! A good level of knowledge, understanding how they can support and how to have a good, supportive conversation makes a big difference.
The Employment & HR team at Burnetts offer a fixed-fee training session for your line managers on menopause in the workplace, as well as being able to draft a menopause policy to ensure access to fair and appropriate support in the workplace.
If you are interested in either of these, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01228552222. We would have happy to have a discussion in confidence to assist your business.