The workplace advice service, ACAS, has published new guidance to help employers support staff affected by menopausal symptoms at work.
Entitled “Menopause at Work” the guidance points out that employers and managers need to be aware that workers can bring claims of disability, age and/or sex discrimination if they feel they have suffered because of their menopause or perimenopause symptoms.
However, many workers are reluctant to tell their employer that they are experiencing menopausal symptoms and therefore do not inform their employer when they take time off work.
This can be because the worker feels that the menopause is a personal matter, because they are embarrassed to share the details of their symptoms with their line manager; or because their manager is a man, someone younger or someone likely to be unsympathetic. This can lead to genuine fears that their job security and/or chances of promotion may be harmed.
As such, the guidance suggests that absences from work should be handled sympathetically. For instance, by not including them as absences in the worker’s attendance record.
It also suggests that employers undertake a number of health and safety steps which include:
- Minimising, reducing, or if possible, removing health and safety risks for workers, for instance by making changes that may help the worker to manage their symptoms
- Assessing health and safety risks that cannot be removed by assessing the temperature and ventilation in the workplace; reviewing the materials used in the worker’s uniform (if they have one); providing somewhere for the worker to rest, and ensuring that cold water is easily available.
Finally, it recommends that employers develop a policy and train all managers, supervisors and team leaders to ensure they understand:
- How to conduct a conversation with a worker raising a perimenopausal or menopausal concern
- How the perimenopause and menopause can affect a worker
- What support or changes might be introduced for the worker
- The law relating to the menopause.
Thompsons Solicitors views on the subject:
"Considering the ubiquity of menopause in the workplace, the law and employers have been slow to take positive and concerted action to address the difficulties which surround it. About 80% of women experience some hot flushes and night sweats and for 20% - 30% of these symptoms are severe enough to have a significant impact on the quality of life.
"Some women also report tiredness, “brain fog”, mood swings and loss of confidence. Although ACAS correctly says that age, sex, and disability discrimination law is relevant, it is both daunting and unsatisfactory to have to claim that you have been discriminated against or to have to see yourself as disabled by this natural process. Workplace best practice and better awareness are welcomed, as are political responses such as Labour’s policy to bolster workplace support for menopausal women, including the introduction of flexible hours and the requirement that managers in firms with over 250 employees receive training on the effects of the menopause to accommodate the needs of employees."
To read the report in full, visit: https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6752