The Myth of Menopause Support in the Workplace

If you had difficulty sleeping, hot flushes, anxiety and found it hard to concentrate, do you think your performance at work would be affected? It would hardly be surprising. These are just a few of the symptoms of menopause listed on the NHS website, and a recent survey has found that 44% of menopausal women in employment feel their work has been affected by their symptoms.

Recently Channel 4 commissioned The Fawcett Society to conduct a study for Davina McCall’s new documentary ‘Sex, Mind & The Menopause’ which found that despite menopause symptoms affecting nearly half the participants at work, 8 in 10 women say they have no support from their employer. Not only this, but 41% of responses reported that menopause or symptoms of menopause has been treated as a joke by colleagues. In most recent data from the Department of Labour, women over 45 made up 43.8% of the workforce in 2016. So why have employers continued to overlook an issue affecting so many of their workers? The report has shone a light on an issue that has been hiding under a shadow of taboo for too long.

Not only will a lack of support demotivate your workforce, but it could create tricky legal repercussions. Currently, employees can bring complaints of age, sex, or disability discrimination because of how they have been treated in relation to menopause. In October 2021, an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision confirmed that severe menopause symptoms qualify as a disability. This means that employers are under a positive duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with severe menopause symptoms. In another example, the tribunal favoured an employee who claimed she had been bullied about her menopause and brought claims of age and sex discrimination; she was awarded £28,000. Tribunals are clearly taking claims born from menopause seriously. With the issue coming into the spotlight, failing to address employee concerns could be costly.

Unsure on where to start when addressing menopause? 4 easy steps to consider are:

  • creating a menopause policy
  • including menopause in equality training sessions
  • consider health and safety risk assessments for those experiencing menopause
  • offer flexible working options

Earlier in the year Adrienne Hardy, Sarah Wilder and Verity Saxon discussed all things menopause, pregnancy loss, fertility, and periods in the workplace with guest speakers Emma Menzies, Fertility at Work Coach, and Meredith Brown from Caring Collaborative Coaching. If you haven’t already then listen to it on Spotify here.
If you would like advice on menopause in your place of work then contact one of the team here at mpm Legal for support – Meet the team – MPM Legal.