The menopause, and the implications of it for both employers and their staff, is becoming quite a hot topic within Employment Law. Indeed, the impact can be so severe that in some instances, it could, potentially, amount to a disability within the Equality Act. As a result, employers need to be “live” to this, and be ready to deal with the effects of the menopause in the workplace.
There are actually 3 stages to the menopause: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.
To find out more about the menopause and its symptoms, we are advising clients to visit the NHS website www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause.
Whilst the menopause is an actual stage of life affecting around half the population, it can include women, trans people and intersex people accordingly. Further, whilst the menopause usually happens between 45 and 55 years of age, it can also happen earlier or later in someone’s life. For many, symptoms last about 5 years. However, symptoms can last longer.
Some people might also experience early menopause or go through surgical menopause earlier in their lives. These types of menopause can be medically complicated so employers should consider this when supporting their staff.
Everyone will experience the menopause differently and for some, the symptoms can be quite severe and can affect people both physically and mentally, meaning it can be a difficult and stressful time.
For employers, therefore, the menopause is a health and wellbeing concern for staff and needs, of course, to be handled sensitively. Further, if an employee or worker is put at a disadvantage or treated less favourably because of their symptoms or the effect it has on them, this could be discriminatory.
In light of the above, it is important to support and create a positive and open environment for people affected by the menopause and to prevent that individual from:
- losing confidence in their skills and abilities;
- feeling that they need to take time off work and hiding the reasons for it; and
- having increased mental health conditions, such as stress, anxiety and depression.
In the worst case, of course, the menopause can result in some people leaving their job.
There is significant rhetoric surrounding this topic. In the first instance, however, we are encouraging all of our clients to learn as much as they can about the situation and also, and if they feel the need, to implement a policy dealing with it. The policy can cover, not only who the policy applies to but can set out further information about what the menopause actually is, the impacts of it and encouraging risk assessments, open conversations, support and adjustments for anyone going through the menopause in the workplace.
If you would like further information on this subject, then please do not hesitate to contact either Andréa or Rachel. Further, if you would like a policy drafted in this respect, please feel free to ask.