Why your company needs a menopause policy
Posted on 9th November 2021 at 10:03
The menopause can have significant physical and mental impact on women, affecting both their personal and professional lives. A government consultation and a campaign by Hello! supported by the Countess of Wessex are both serving to raise awareness of the impact menopause can have on women at work, and the number of tribunal cases referencing menopause has significantly increased.
It may be tempting to view this as an issue for each individual to manage. However, implementing a Menopause policy to address how your organisation supports its employees is likely to be far more beneficial.
Avoid the risk of discrimination claims
In Rooney v Leicester City Council (2021) the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the menopause can qualify as a disability where symptoms did have a significant impact on day-to-day activities and are likely to last longer than 12 months. While not all women will experience the menopause in the same way, those who do qualify as disabled are protected under the Equality Act 2010. Failing to make reasonable adjustments could lead to a discrimination claim.
One survey found that 13 per cent of women who suffered ill health due to the menopause had to go through a disciplinary procedure. Where a policy is found to impact harshly on women experiencing menopause symptoms, this could give rise to claims of indirect disability discrimination.
Retain talent and improve diversity
There are more than 4.3 million working women aged 45-60 in the UK, so menopause affects a huge number of the workforce. Almost 900,000 women in the UK left their jobs because of symptoms of the menopause, and a further 25 per cent of those surveyed have considered resigning. Failure to support employees through the menopause could lose your business a significant number of talented, experienced employees
One in five women passed on the chance to go for a promotion they would have otherwise considered and for many women this comes at a time when they might otherwise be moving into senior management roles. Supporting women through the menopause could contribute to achieving a diverse senior leadership, and all the benefits that brings.
Get ahead before it becomes a problem
Only 19 per cent of employees surveyed were aware of support at work with symptoms of the menopause. It’s possible that support may have been available for some of the remainder but that their employer had not made them aware of it. It is not a good idea to wait until an employee approaches you about their symptoms, as only 5% of women signed off work because of the menopause said menopause was cited on their sickness certificate.
Having a clear, easily accessible policy as part of your handbook will make sure staff are aware of your approach, and ensure employees feel supported when the time comes.
Small changes can make a big difference
A good menopause policy isn’t just about mitigating the impact of menopause on your business. It should help women manage the impact of the menopause practically, emotionally and by creating a respectful and open culture.
Your menopause policy doesn’t have to include huge changes to how your organisation works. Small changes can have a big impact on women’s experience. For example:
31% of those experiencing the menopause said they would value flexible hours
27% wanted to be offered mental health support.
23% wanted changes to the temperature and ventilation in the workplace
22% wanted increased refreshment breaks
The fact that your company cares enough to have a policy may itself make a big difference to your employees' emotional wellbeing. As one respondent put it, "I truly believe that if my boss was understanding and aware of what I'm going through mentally I'd feel more relaxed, and my mental symptoms wouldn't be so severe."
How we can help
Our set of 20 tailored, easy-to-read policies – including a menopause policy - costs £895 +VAT. This includes a consultation with an employment solicitor to tailor the policies to your business.
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