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Menopause Policy

November 2021

After decades of being a taboo subject, menopause is finally being discussed openly in everything from TV documentaries to parliamentary debates. Even the much-married Rod Stewart has waded into the debate, opining on the impact of menopause on his wife.

Finally, employers are also starting to become more aware of, and sensitive to, the issue of menopause and its impact in the workplace. The scale of the issue is striking:

• More than three-quarters of menopausal women are now in employment;

• Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce;

• Three out of four women experience symptoms of menopause; one in four experience serious symptoms; and

• There have already been successful employment tribunals against employers focusing on menopause-related matters.

Employers must now have proper processes and policies in place to address the issue of menopause in the workplace.

In order to do this, the starting point is for employers to create an environment where employees can talk about menopause openly and without embarrassment. It is, after all, a natural phase in every woman’s life that needs to be normalised. The second point is to understand that all women experience menopause differently. Symptoms of menopause can be physical, such as hot flushes, headaches, poor sleep and erratic periods, or psychological, such as anxiety, low mood, lack of confidence and poor concentration. Women may have all or none of these symptoms and they need to be able to speak openly to their line manager or HR team about how to approach any problems that may arise.

In general terms, employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees. In addition, and depending on the severity of the symptoms, menopausal symptoms may amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010. It is important that employers ensure, therefore, that they do not treat employees less favourably than others as a result of a disability and must also make reasonable adjustments to ensure that employees are not disadvantaged as a result of their disability. These reasonable adjustments may include:

• Providing a fan;

• Flexibility in respect of working arrangements;

• Reallocation of workload; and

• Relaxation of dress code.

In order to help employers develop a structured approach to supporting employees going through menopause, Simply-Docs is developing a group of documents, the first of which is a Menopause Policy. This Menopause Policy is intended to help raise awareness and understanding of menopausal symptoms in the whole workplace and encourage employees to discuss their own symptoms in a timely manner if the symptoms are affecting their work performance. Further documents relating to menopause in the workplace will follow.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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