The menopausal age group accounts for the biggest proportion of the present workforce in the UK, with approximately four million employed women aged 45 to 55.
Due to the increased awareness highlighted in the media and the impact of the menopause, the Government’s Women Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry titled “Menopause in the Workplace”. As part of this inquiry, the committee will be debating whether there should be a mandatory requirement introduced for employers to have a menopause policy in place. In 2019, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Bupa discovered from a survey that 60% of respondents experiencing menopausal symptoms were negatively impacted at work. Nearly one million women left their jobs due to menopausal symptoms with one in four experiencing severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.
So how can employers support their employees who are going through the menopause?
Menopause and Employment Law
There is currently no legal requirement for organisations to adopt a menopausal policy to safeguard employees from discrimination.
However, implementing a policy helps build employee and leadership awareness around the impact of the menopause, supports employee wellbeing, and minimises the risk of possible employment claims. The number of cases brought before Employment Tribunals has more than doubled in the last three years, with five cases in 2018 compared to 10 in the first six months of 2021. A further 116 cases were resolved by in-house resolutions in the UK, with citations under the Equality Act around age, sex and disability.
Train all of your employees such as, using online training videos, webinars, blogs and guides – ACAS is a good source for this – to assist them in the understanding of the impact of menopause at work. Raising awareness is key and providing managers with the expertise to confidently conduct conversations with women experiencing perimenopause or menopausal symptoms during their working lives will benefit your current female workforce and help retain and attract future talent.
Communication and Understanding
Communication and understanding are crucial. You may want to explore bringing in Menopause Support Mentors, who are trained in a similar way to Mental Health First Responders or Wellbeing Champions. This can provide employees with a first point of contact to speak with someone, as many women are hesitant to speak with their managers.
Your employees then know that there is a safe space for them to discuss their feelings, honestly and freely, and to share how it is affecting them at work, when there is clear communication and understanding.
Flexibility and Adjustments
Employers who have an open discussion with their employees are better equipped to explore how they may effectively support them, such as through flexible working arrangements and workplace adjustments. Physical and psychological changes that women may go through during this time should be taken into account.
For more advice on how to support your employees experiencing menopausal symptoms, then please contact our expert HR team here.