A menopause policy: a positive first step
According to ACAS, around two million women over the age of 50 have difficulties at work as a result of their menopause symptoms. Menopause can affect all of us indirectly at work, as colleagues or line managers, but it still remains a taboo subject, rarely discussed or even acknowledged in the workplace. There is also very little obvious support or protection available for women experiencing the sometimes debilitating symptoms of the menopause at work.
Menopause and employers’ duties
Employers have a duty to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff, and women experiencing the symptoms of the menopause should be treated fairly at work.
Employers can take measures to support women and at the same time reduce the risk of potential menopause-related claims. Menopause-related claims are likely to be brought by women as sex, age or disability discrimination claims. Compensation for such discrimination claims can be perilous for an employer, as these claims offer uncapped financial awards. With this in mind, can the introduction of a menopause policy help safeguard your organisation?
How would a menopause policy help?
In general, workplace policies operate as a clear statement explaining how staff must act in certain circumstances, or how the organisation approaches a particular issue. They provide fairness and consistency across the organisation and in some cases, help to minimise the risks of potential claims. They can also assist employers with defending discrimination claims if the employer can demonstrate that it took all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination.
A menopause policy can help to educate your staff about the menopause and provide them with a framework to handle conversations about the menopause. It also demonstrates a culture and commitment to supporting women experiencing symptoms of the menopause in the workplace.
Is a menopause policy enough?
In short, no. The introduction of a menopause policy alone cannot be relied upon in defending discrimination claims. Communicating the policy clearly to your staff is a must, but to be effective, you should give appropriate training to work in tandem with the policy. Training on how to handle conversations about the menopause and menopause-related issues should form part of your organisation’s equality and diversity training. Once the initial training has been given to staff, you should provide regular up-to-date training to ensure that it remains current and does not become stale.
You also need to educate your staff, particularly your managers, about the interplay of a menopause policy with your other workplace policies, which deal with performance issues, sickness absence, equal opportunities, flexible working etc., when dealing with menopause-related issues.
The introduction of a menopause policy is a positive first step to raising awareness of the menopause and showing a commitment to supporting your staff who are affected by the menopause, but to successfully safeguard your organisation it should not be the only step you take.
For advice on introducing a menopause policy, or any other workplace policies, get in touch with our expert Employment & HR team:
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