The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Menopause recently concluded its inquiry into the impacts of the menopause and has published a final report containing a variety of recommendations.
Menopause in the workplace was one of the areas that attracted the most interest during the inquiry. The APPG's findings bring employers firmly under the spotlight, highlighting that there is much that needs to be done by both the Government and employers to help support those experiencing menopause at work.
At present, discrimination law does not specifically cover menopause. Despite this, there has been an increase in the number of successful menopause-related claims, which are often brought on the basis that the treatment suffered is sex, age or disability discrimination. The APPG report highlights that it is easy for employers to be unaware of, or to neglect to consider their workplace obligations regarding the menopause, and that this lack of knowledge is exacerbated by a lack of Government guidance and legislation in this area. You can read more about the discrimination and other employment law issues associated with the menopause in this article.
As a result, employers may not have the skills or awareness needed to support perimenopausal and menopausal employees. This theme was also borne out from the findings of a recent menopause survey conducted by Acas where one in three employers said they do not feel well equipped to support employees going through the menopause.
The APPG recommend that the Government must:
- Coordinate and support an employer-led campaign to raise awareness of menopause in the workplace and to help tackle the taboo surrounding menopause and work. This campaign must promote the importance of supporting employees through the menopause transition as a core employee health issue and promote the business case for investing in employee support; and
- Update and promote guidance for employers on best practice menopause at work policies and supporting interventions. This should include the economic justification and productivity benefits of doing so and should be tailored to organisations of different sizes and resources to ensure that it is as effective as possible.
51% of the population will experience the menopause. More women are staying in employment longer and women over 50 years old are the fastest growing segment of the workforce. As the APPG report points out, almost a million women in the UK have left jobs as a result of menopausal symptoms. With women often at the peak of their careers during the menopause transition, this exacerbates gender inequality in senior roles and adds to the gender pay gap. Employers should therefore consider workplace menopause support a diversity priority.
So, what can employers do to support employees going through menopause transition? There is no one-size fits all approach, but steps employers might consider include the following:
- Introduce mandatory menopause training for HR and managers;
- Roll out wider training – for example, have a specialist speaker and/or focussed sessions on the menopause to ensure awareness is cascaded; and
- Signpost guidance and information so employees can readily access this if needed.
- Introduce a menopause policy that considers reasonable adjustments;
- Where practicable, contribute or pay for Hormone Replacement Therapy (which can be expensive and difficult to access); and
- Adjust the workplace environment such as temperature regulation and altering uniforms so they are more breathable and lightweight, to accommodate symptoms.
- Establish networks for women to share experiences and feedback to management to help inform and drive change; and
- Produce guidance for those who are supporting someone going through the menopause.
If you would like more information on how best to manage these issues in your business, please get in touch with your usual Mishcon de Reya contact or with a member of the Employment team.