You can’t afford to overlook menopause in the workplace

3 Minutes

With c50% of the population affected by menopause at some point in their lives it’s essential not to overlook this issue.

To highlight the significance of addressing menopause-related challenges, earlier this year, an ex-employee was awarded £65,000 by a tribunal when it found her employer failed to make reasonable adjustments, after she clearly communicated the impact of her symptoms on her ability to fulfil her role adequately, (Lynskey v Direct Line Insurance Services Ltd).

The legal framework in the UK requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees experiencing long-term health issues or disabilities that impact their ability to carry out their responsibilities.

Whether you are dealing with concerns about poor performance or inappropriate conduct, should you be told, or ought to reasonably have been aware, that the cause may be related to disability, it’s vital that you make adjustments where possible. It is important to carefully consider whether those adjustments are required before deciding how you will proceed as you must not treat someone unfavourably because of a disability.

In the case of menopause this might include one, or a few, of the following suggestions:

Temperature control – allowing employees to adjust the temperature to their comfort level, crucial for managing hot flushes and temperature sensitivity. Providing desk fans can also assist with these symptoms

Flexible working hours or remote working – especially helpful when the menopause seriously impacts sleep patterns

Breaks and designated rest areas – useful for managing stress and physical discomfort

Mental health support – offering an Employee Assistance Programme is also a useful and not necessarily expensive employee benefit that could benefit all employees

Adjustments to targets – might be necessary for a period too

Open communication and regular check-ins – encouraging employees to share their needs and checking that any adjustments are working effectively

However, you address the issue, this case underscores the growing recognition of menopause as a workplace concern and reinforces the legal obligations of employers to support employees during this life stage.

And here are a few useful resources to help raise awareness:

The British Menopause Society: https://thebms.org.uk/
The Menopause Charity: https://www.themenopausecharity.org/
Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/davina-mccall-sex-myths-and-the-menopause

What are you doing on World Menopause Day to ensure all your employees are supported through ill-health and other conditions that have a detrimental effect on their ability to work as usual?