Menopause in the workplace…
Addressing the menopause in the workplace has become an important topic of conversation in recent years, despite it historically being a taboo subject for many. Employment Tribunal claims have also been on the rise with 16 tribunal claims citing the menopause in 2020, an increase from just 6 in 2019.
Employers will need to assess whether their current culture promotes a supportive environment to minimise the risk of tribunal claims and to encourage open conversations.
What are the key considerations?
Employers should endeavour to create a supportive environment for women, to encourage staff to feel confident to discuss any issues openly and with confidence that any requests or concerns will be handled sensitively and confidentially. Offering flexible working, for example, part-time or job-sharing arrangements, can also help with those experiencing more severe symptoms.
What employment claims can be brought in connection with the menopause?
Although the menopause is not classed as a protected characteristic under employment law, employers need to be mindful that treatment of staff who are experiencing the menopause could still fall under the protected characteristics of age, sex and disability, resulting in a potential discrimination claim. More severe treatment could also give rise to a constructive dismissal claim, if the treatment is sufficient enough to amount to a fundamental breach of contract.
Treatment that could give rise to claims under employment law includes belittling employees about their symptoms, failing to listen to requests for help and support or even making direct comments about a women’s age.
What steps can employers take to mitigate the risk of employment claims relating to the menopause?
Implementing a workplace policy can assist with raising awareness, by setting out how issues can be raised and how they will be handled. Although ACAS has guidance on dealing with the menopause, they also recommend that employers have their own policy in place.
Employers should also consider training managers to ensure that staff are capable of dealing with menopause-related issues. Whilst this should help employees to feel properly supported, it will also educate the workforce for those who are unaware of the impact the menopause may have on women in the workplace.
How can we help?
We can draft a bespoke policy dealing with menopause in the workplace, or assist with further advice on what steps you can take to encourage a supportive environment.
If you have a question or would like further information on how we can help… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558. Our Employment team is on hand to assist you with all you need to know.