Menopause in The Workplace: What Employers Should be Doing
The menopause used to be a taboo topic. Nowadays, it is increasingly recognised that the menopause can have a big impact on an employee’s home and work life. Menopausal symptoms can vary from person to person but may include hot flushes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, reduced concentration, and heavy periods.
Employers and managers should try to understand the physical, emotional, and psychological challenges that menopause can bring. By providing training and resources, employers can help raise awareness and understanding of menopause, its impact, and how best to support those experiencing it.
Employers should also encourage open conversations about menopause and assure employees that they can discuss their needs with their managers without fear of discrimination or negative consequences.
Menopause Support at Work: Health and Safety Law
Employers in the UK have a legal duty under health and safety law to ensure the well-being of their employees. This includes conducting suitable and sufficient risk assessments in the workplace.
A risk assessment relating to the menopause could include:
Temperature and Ventilation: Checking the workplace temperature and ventilation, understanding the potential for hot flashes experienced by some menopausal individuals.
Uniforms and Clothing: Evaluating the materials and fit of any uniforms or clothing provided to staff.
Rest Facilities: Considering whether there are suitable rest facilities available for staff if needed. This may include a quiet room where employees can take a break and manage symptoms if necessary.
Toilet Facilities: Ensuring that toilet facilities are easily accessible for all employees, particularly for those who may require the facilities more frequently due to menopausal symptoms.
Drinking Water: Ensuring that drinking water is readily available to help employees stay hydrated, especially during hot flashes, which can lead to increased thirst.
Additional Menopause Support in The Workplace
All workplaces should provide the following options as a form of menopause support at work. If you’re finding your normal routine at work particularly challenging, then please be aware of the following information and how it could help you:
Flexible Working Requests
Flexible working can provide a valuable solution for employees managing menopausal symptoms and is an important aspect of promoting inclusivity and work-life balance in the workplace.
Employees in the UK have the statutory right to request flexible working arrangements which can include changing start or finish times, working from home, reducing hours, or proposing a job share. These arrangements can be helpful for employees experiencing menopausal symptoms, as they provide flexibility to manage their health and work commitments effectively.
While an employee is not obligated to disclose the specific reason for making flexible working request, mentioning the menopause can provide context and help an employer understand their needs better.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination on several grounds, including sex, age, and disability. The menopause is not specifically covered under the Equality Act, but employees are protected against direct and indirect age and sex discrimination, as well as harassment. If a woman experiences severe menopausal symptoms that substantially and adversely affect her daily life, it may be classified as a disability under the Equality Act.
Employers have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to support employees going through menopause if it qualifies as a disability. Failure to do so could lead to a discrimination claim. Reasonable adjustments may include flexible work arrangements, temperature control in the workplace, or additional breaks.
Unfair Dismissal and Constructive Unfair Dismissal Claims Related to Menopause
In unfair dismissal cases related to menopausal symptoms, an employee may have a valid claim if an employer did not properly consider how the symptoms were relevant to issues like attendance, misconduct, or performance that led to the dismissal.
Constructive dismissal occurs when an employee resigns due to their employer’s repudiatory breach of contract, which makes it impossible or unreasonable for them to continue working. It can include a complete lack of support related to menopausal symptoms.
Get Legal Advice if You Need Support Managing Menopause in The Workplace
Overall, addressing the impact of menopause in the workplace is not only a matter of promoting inclusivity and supporting employees, but it can also contribute to greater job satisfaction, retention, and overall well-being within the workforce. It’s a positive step towards creating a more supportive and diverse work environment.
In complex cases, employers may want to seek legal advice to ensure they are addressing menopause-related issues in compliance with the law. Employees should seek advice if they are discriminated against in relation to the menopause.
The Employment Law team at PM Law understand your rights and will give you reliable and actionable legal advice in a sensitive manner. If you’d like a further discussion related to your rights and menopause in the workplace, please fill out the contact form on our Employment Law page or call us directly on 03300 562182.