Endometriosis at Work

  • Occupational Health
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss the effects of endometriosis on your employees, how Peninsula can help you support them, and the legislation you must follow.

As the second most common gynecological condition in the UK, endometriosis will likely affect one of your employees. So, you must take the right steps to support them.

This means providing reasonable adjustments where required, and ensuring your working environment is comfortable enough for them to work effectively.

Failure to do so could leave your business vulnerable to disability discrimination claims at an employment tribunal. Consequently, you could face financial, legal, and reputational damage.

That's why Peninsula is here to help.

In this guide, we'll discuss the effects of endometriosis on your employees, how Peninsula can help you support them, and the legislation you must follow.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that typically affects women at any age between puberty and menopause. But, not everyone affected by endometriosis is a woman - it also affects trans males and non-binary individuals too.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other parts of the body, such as on the:

  • Ovaries.
  • Fallopian tubes.
  • Bladder.
  • Bowel.

Whilst treatments for endometriosis are available, there is no cure.

Having endometriosis can be painful, exhausting and debilitating. Not only does it affect individuals in their personal life, but it can also make work much more difficult to manage.

How Peninsula can help you support employees with endometriosis

Your employee might have endometriosis, but they don't need to deal with it alone.

With Peninsula's help, we can ensure you provide the best work environment for staff with endometriosis, as well ensuring you comply with all aspects of employment law, and Health & Safety legislation.

When you work with Peninsula, you have access to:

  • 24/7 advice: No matter the time, day, or problem - if you've got a question regarding Health & Safety and HR, we've got you covered.
  • Documentation services: Our employment law experts will craft all the relevant documentation your workplace needs to ensure its compliance. And if you want to introduce a new policy - we can help you create that too.
  • Employee Assistance Programme (EAP): Supporting employee wellbeing is made much simpler with our EAP. The service includes 24/7 counselling, in-person therapy sessions, as well as a suite of online tools to help your workers stay happy and healthy.

How are employees affected by endometriosis in the workplace?

An endometriosis diagnosis can have a significant impact on your employees. For example, one of the most notable endometriosis symptoms is severe pain.

If your employee is in chronic pain throughout their working day, it will make them feel uncomfortable, as well as affect their focus, output, and mood. As a result, the quality of their work may decline.

Other symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Constipation.
  • Nausea.
  • Infertility or fertility issues.
  • Fatigue.

As endometriosis can be very challenging for individuals to deal with, it might also lead sufferers to develop depression. So, not only is your employees' physical health vulnerable, but their mental health is too.

What are the rights of employees with endometriosis?

As it stands, employees with endometriosis do not have a specific set of rights. Furthermore, endometriosis is not automatically considered a disability - it depends on the circumstances, and how much the condition affects an individual's life.

This is according to the Equality Act 2010, which states a condition can be considered a disability if:

  • An individual has a physical or mental impairment. For example, if they are certified blind or have anxiety; and
  • The condition has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to do normal day-to-day activities. For example, they are unable to work without pain.

If your employee has endometriosis, and it's considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010, you have several legal obligations to uphold.

According to the legislation, it's your legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for them; to ensure the negative impact their disability has on their work is removed or reduced.

Can employees take time off for endometriosis?

There is no specific legislation that states employees can take time off if they suffer from endometriosis. But, like with any other illness, they can self-certify from work for the first seven days and take sick leave.

If the employee needs to take more than a week off for sickness, they must get a fit note from their GP. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will also apply in these circumstances, as well as any contractual sick pay.

Why is supporting workers with endometriosis important?

Ensuring your employees with endometriosis receive support is important to their wellbeing, and even the success of your business.

Let's take a further look at the reasons why this is important.

  • Builds better employee relations: Employees are more likely to open up about their health in supportive environments. As a result, it's easier to communicate and find out what your staff needs. This will increase their trust in you as their employer, and encourage them to open up about other problems should they arise.
  • Increases workplace productivity: Employees with endometriosis will work better and more productively in an environment that makes them feel comfortable. This is because they'll feel less distracted by their symptoms - because your workplace is mitigating or removing them. Consequently, productivity and quality of work will likely increase.
  • Improves employee retention: Employee retention could also improve when supporting workers with endometriosis. This is because they know their workplace is willing to make arrangements for them to feel comfortable - whereas other employers might not. As a result, it will likely increase loyalty to your company and therefore, retention.

Supporting workers with endometriosis

There are several different ways you can support employees with endometriosis. Whilst symptoms vary, you can take a number of steps to improve their comfortability at work.

These include:

Make reasonable adjustments

Whilst making reasonable adjustments for staff with disabilities is your legal duty, it also makes your employee's working life easier. Not to mention, it often costs less to put workplace adjustments in place than it does to recruit and train a new staff member.

This is because they are able to do their job in a way that helps them feel comfortable. Examples include providing:

But, not every reasonable adjustment is considered reasonable - it depends on the size, scale and revenue of your business. Ensure you respond to a request for reasonable adjustments within a timely manner – aim to acknowledge them within two weeks of the request being made. They should also be reviewed regularly, or when circumstances have changed.

Host frequent one-to-ones

Another way you can better support workers with endometriosis is to host frequent one-to-ones. This will help you and senior management support workers with endometriosis better.

Generally, performing monthly one-to-ones with your employees is ideal. This is because it gives them the opportunity to disclose any problems they're having in a private setting away from other staff.

For your employees with endometriosis, this is especially the case. For example, they might feel more comfortable opening up to you during a one-to-one about the extent of their condition - rather than being surrounded by staff in an open plan setting.

Create a better understanding of endometriosis

You should also work with your employees to provide a wider understanding of endometriosis. This will help raise awareness around menstrual health conditions in general. Not to mention, it will help remove the stigma around talking about periods and menstrual pain in the workplace.

One way you can do this is to join the endometriosis friendly employer scheme. The initiative; which was launched by Endometriosis UK, provides guidance to employers on how to support employees with endometriosis, as well as how to tackle the stigma around it.

Providing training to staff can also help avoid discrimination occurring. Remember, it's important your staff do not treat colleagues with endometriosis any differently - if they do, it could open you up to discrimination claims at an employment tribunal.

Get expert help on endometriosis from Peninsula

Want to find out more about how you can help them? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.


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