ACAS published guidance on how to manage menopause at work and since then there have been more information published about what employers need to consider when managing employees who are transitioning through the menopause.
The CIPD says that 59% of women who experience menopausal symptoms said that it impacted them negatively at work.
Let’s think about how that may be:
- Firstly the environment, hot sweats can be both embarassing and debilitating. Imagine being asked to where a polyester uniform and trousers when you are experiencing fluctating temperatures that you can’t control.
- Performance; women report problems with concentration, brain fog, headaches and anxiety all of which impact performance.
- Disclosure; we all love talking about heavy periods, don’t we? No, being embarassed and being anxious about how the Line Manager will react are all described as reasons why disclosure makes women uncomfortable.
Why does it matter how manager’s manage employees experiencing menopause?
It isn’t just best practice to manage menopause effectively. The Equality Act 2010 can create liability on employers. Symptoms can be severe and last 12 months, say no more!
The employer is therefore under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the employees impacted by the menopause. Equally they must ensure that they do not directly or indirectly discriminate.
In Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service, Mrs Davies won her tribunal as she was suffering with the menopause. Her condition caused her to be forgetful and confused and this behaviour led to her dismissal from her job. Her employer failed to take into consideration that her condition was a disability.
Apart from losing tribunals for unfair dismissal. Employers could also find themselves on the wrong side of the Equality Act 2010 if an employee was to allege harassment. Unwanted comments could be made about people going through the menopause. We all know how quickly ‘jokes’ can go south these days.
Your uniform policy could be indirectly discriminatory if they disadvantage women who have symptoms of the menopause. Therefore you need to create an environment where these women can come to you and discuss what adjustments they need and you can then reflect whether you can be flexible with your uniform policy.
Get a copy of the easy to read ACAS guide here.
What can you do?
Well, despite much resistance we now recommend all employers have a menopause policy.
You can get a copy of ours by visiting our shop here.
Managers should be trained in the policy and can benefit from taking part in a course. We have a Menopause for Manager’s online course available here.
If employees know that managers are trained and competent (our course includes a certificate)they are more likely to approach their manager.
In summary if workplaces are more understanding of the effects that the menopause may have on women, and are prepared to make adjustments to assist women, more women will feel comfortable discussing it. The more it’s talked about, the less it is a taboo and the less likely you are to face a tribunal.
If you need any assistance with any aspects of HR or employment law please call us on 01527 306066