October 12, 2022
Led by the International Menopause Society, World Menopause Day takes place annually on 18th October to raise awareness and offer support to those individuals who are going through menopause or perimenopause. This year’s theme is cognition and mood.
Our article focuses on increasing knowledge and understanding in the employment context. Employers can offer support to their employees by having a clear policy that enables their staff to speak about any problems they are facing and to also ensure fellow workers are sensitive to menopausal symptoms.
It’s important for employers to recognise that it is not just those who were gender-assigned as women at birth, as it may also affect people who are trans or intersex. Relatives and carers of someone going through the menopause can also be affected.
If an employee appears to be struggling at work or their behaviour has changed, (this could be through their performance or attendance for example), employers should encourage employees to talk openly about anything that may be a cause to explain the changes. Those suffering with menopausal symptoms often won’t speak up and it is important for employers to break the stigma and taboo surrounding menopause.
Symptoms which can last several years can include hot flushes, sleep disturbance, stress, anxiety, low mood, weight gain and reduced concentration. The Equality Act (2010) prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, whether directly, indirectly or by harassment. It also requires employers to make reasonable adjustments where required and those with menopausal symptoms should be supported the same way as any other employee with an ongoing health condition. A risk assessment is likely to be necessary to identify measures that can be put in place to support employees and ensure their health, safety and welfare is maintained.
Court figures are showing an increase in the number of tribunal claims citing menopause and we saw a tribunal judgement handed down in 2019 which determined that the symptoms of menopause may have physiological and physical consequences that meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act, with a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. In 2022, Leigh Best won an age and sex harassment case after her male boss made loud comments about her going through the menopause in front of customers.
Spencers Solicitors have a team of advisers who can support you with any queries you may have regarding menopause at work. Call us on 08000 93 00 94 for further advice.
Posted in: Employment Law