Going through the menopause can bring about a number of workplace requirements. These can range from providing suitable conditions, to dealing with medical symptoms.
Employers can efficiently manage situations through a menopause policy. By providing the right aid and support, you can protect menopausal employees during their jobs.
However, neglecting them can affect both their professional and personal lives–and you could be held liable to compensation fees and business disruption.
In this guide, we'll look at what a menopause policy is, what your legal obligations are, and how to support menopausal people during work.
What is a menopause policy?
Menopause policies are workplace guidelines which manages women, trans, and non-binary employees who are experiencing menopausal symptoms.
The policy outlines what obligations employers need to carry out in order to support their staff during this time.
There are three stages of menopause:
- Perimenopause: This is the transitional stage before menopause.
- Postmenopause: The is the transitional stage after menopause.
Development of this condition usually occurs between the age 45 to 55–but a person can experience early menopause, too. They can also go through mild or severe menopause symptoms, at different stages of their lives.
Every menopause policy needs to be proactive in supporting women, trans, and non-binary people experiencing symptoms.
Why do you need a menopause policy?
Employers are not legally required to have a menopause policy in place. But neglecting an affected employee could cost you a range of problems.
For example, without having menopause policies, it could lead to:
- Lower employee engagement, motivation, and morale.
- Decrease in performance and productivity.
- Increase in sickness absence and unauthorised leave.
- Negative impacts on employee relations.
- Force an employee into resignation.
Most businesses will have workplace policies in place which protect staff health, safety, and welfare security. You might decide to either create a stand-alone policy or vary rules into your existing policies.
For example, your sickness absence policy can include a section on menopause. Consider adding a set of separate rules on menopause-related absences. Outline your procedures when managing the length of sick leave and the severity of menopausal symptoms.
There are so many key risks and concerns relating to menopause conditions. So, its best employers encourage a policy which provides respect for all. That way, you can present an overall view on how you view menopause, along with support and resources for your staff.
Remember, every menopause policy must be proactive in supporting women, trans, and non-binary people equally and fairly
Is there a law on menopause policies in the workplace?
In the UK, there isn't a specific law on menopause in the workplace. Nor is it a legal requirement to have this type of policy in place. However, your business could face detrimental risks should you neglect implementing one.
Menopause is not a legal protected characteristic under UK employment law. However, age, disability, and sex are characteristics which are legally protected from unfair treatment, under the Equality Act 2010. This means you cannot discriminate against a menopausal employee based on anything relating to age, disability, or sex.
As an employer, you need to protect the health, safety, and welfare of your workforce. This includes vulnerable menopausal women and gender nonconforming workers.
Failing to safeguard them could result in them feeling unvalued and uncared for. They could decide to leave their job, which may affect your business's productivity and reputation.
In other cases, they could raise a constructive dismissal claim if they felt they were treated unfairly and were forced to leave. This claim could be judged in tribunal courts, where employers are subject to expensive compensation.
Employers need to take reasonable steps which respects the health and wellbeing of menopausal staff. This includes having a reasonable response to any physical and mental menopause symptoms.
For example, you can introduce workplace adjustments, like flexible working. Or additional sick leave for those suffering from specific symptoms.
How to create a menopause policy for your workplace
Menopause policies outline a range of rules, practices, and behaviours which need to be followed by everyone in the workplace. These vary from how to raise awareness, to ways to encourage open discussions. Your policy help present positive guidelines to support the wellbeing of menopausal person.
Without having a policy in place, many workers may be subject to negative impacts. It's ill-advised to write menopause off as a 'women's problem' or something that doesn't concern you professionally. If employees are suffering, you need to meet your legal obligations and take the right support.
Here's how to create a menopause policy for your workplace:
Present your statement of intent
The first key step for managing your menopause policy is to present your statement of intent. This declaration should outline how to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of your employee's professional and personal life.
Make sure your statement doesn't solely support women. It should cover all gender identities, like trans and non-binary people.
Outline your menopause policy aims
You need to outline your policy aim for protecting employees with menopause. Explain what menopause is, menopausal symptoms, and ways to manage the condition at work.
There are several factors to include in your menopause policy. For example:
- Provide reasonable adjustments for employees who require them.
- Present performance management or appraisals.
- Build a secure work-life balance for affected employees.
- Raise awareness on spotting menopausal symptoms
- Have open conversations and tackle negative menopause stigma.
Highlight roles and responsibilities
Organisations hold several roles and responsibilities for employees experiencing menopausal symptoms. You need to highlight them for the individual, line-managers, and the overall business.
Every employee should ideally keep on top of their own health and wellbeing. But they need to be able to talk about their condition and potential development of symptoms.
As an employer, they need to be able to build safe and secure organisations which supports women, trans, and non-binary people working with menopause.
Offer menopause training
Offer your line managers training on obtaining the best practice to manage employees with menopause.
Managers have direct contact with workers on a daily basis–so provide training on how to spot menopause signs through open conversations. They'll be able to implement a positive response in supporting their working life.
Comply with relevant laws
Remember, whilst there isn't a specific employment law on menopause, there are several relating legal obligations.
Your legal duties for menopausal employees revolve around health, safety, and welfare. And in particular, your policy needs to comply with laws relating to workplace discrimination, bullying, and harassment. Menopause isn't specifically a protected characteristic; but remember, it does relate to age, gender, and sex.
Make sure employees fully understand how to raise grievances if they believe they were treated unfairly–as well as disciplinary actions that follow.
Provide contact of support
Employers aren't expected to cure or rectify medical conditions. Instead, provide the right contact of support.
These can be external resources, like medical health services, therapy sessions, and mindfulness support. Internally, you need to appoint points of support contacts within the workplace. Such contacts can include HR personnel, occupational health, and a therapy professional.
These contacts should be made available to everyone. Employees need to be confident in having confidential conversations, where they can talk about their condition, as well as other work-related concerns.
Get expert advice on your menopause policy with Peninsula
As an employer, you need to promote the importance of supporting menopausal workers. They should be able to work comfortably without any worry or affect to their employment role.
Encourage this and you'll be able to fully support women, trans, and non-binary people going through the menopause. If not, an affected employee could decide to raise severe grievance claims against your organisation.
Peninsula offer expert advice on supporting menopause policies. Our team offers 24/7 health & safety advice which is available 365 days a year.
Want to find out more? Book a free chat with one of our HR consultants. For further information, call 0800 028 2420.