Menopause Awareness Month

Kate Palmer - HR Advice and Consultancy Director

October 11 2022

October is ‘menopause awareness month’, and ‘World Menopause Day’ is on 18 October 2022. This year, probably more than ever, employers need to be prepared to respond. Here's what you need to know…

Menopause claims on the increase

Over the last year, employment tribunal claims citing menopause have increased by 50%. This means that employees are becoming more aware of their rights and the support they should be getting and when they don’t, they decide to take it further

Menopause can be a disability

A disability is a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out day to day activities. A very limited number of conditions are automatically classed as a disability, like cancer and multiple sclerosis. All others will need to “pass the test” ie the individual concerned will have to demonstrate that the condition has the required effect.

Menopause can and has been held to be a disability by an employment tribunal. This means that the employee involved has all the protection at work that the Equality Act brings.

Employers need to be alert to ensuring that the employee is not harassed because of menopause; this could happen if a colleague were to ‘joke’ with the employee about her ‘going through the change’, laughing because the employee needs to have a fan close by her or making fun of her in front of others about not being able to remember key details of an earlier meeting.

Employers also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. For employees going through menopause, this could be adjustments to uniform, moving the employee closer to the window for fresh air, allowing the employee some flexibility to work from home etc.

It affects half of your workforce

Almost all women will have periods which means that almost all women will experience the end of that part of their life.

For some, that’s half of your entire workforce who could be experiencing physical and psychological difficulties that impact their ability to do their job well.

And don’t forget, menopause will be experienced by females and those assigned female at birth which includes trans and non-binary staff.

What you can do

In a report completed by the Women and Equalities Committee, six key measures were identified:

Simple, practical adjustments: A working space close to fans, air-con, windows, and away from heaters; comfortable uniforms with breathable fabrics; easy access to toilets and washing facilities; and longer or more frequent rest breaks.

Policies: Specific policies that recognise the impact of menopause.

Flexibility: Offering flexible working arrangements to amend days/hours and place of work.

Education: A greater understanding of the menopause and its impact in the workplace, menopause-specific training for managers.

Cultural change: Create a working environment which is safe and open to discuss menopause with managers and colleagues and removes associated stigma and taboo.

Support networks: Ensure employees feel supported in the workplace and know how to access support. Introducing a Menopause Champion can be a great way to facilitate this.



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