Employers and HR professionals still fail to provide menopause-specific support in the workplace. Almost two-thirds (65%) of employers do not offer menopause-specific support to their employees, according to a survey of employers and HR professionals, by WorkNest, an HR company.
It would seem that menopause remains a tricky conversation. The survey found that only 15% of managers and employees openly discuss menopause at work. More than half (56%) of managers and employees are reluctant to talk about menopause at work to any extent.
Equally worrying is that most managers are unaware of the legal risks associated with menopause. Nearly seven in ten line managers (68%) do not understand the legal risks and obligations of managing staff during menopause, and 13% of line managers are uncomfortable dealing with menopause issues in the workplace.
The law is unclear, but if organisations do not understand the legal risks, it will be a long time before they provide appropriate support to staff managing menopause. This could result in a discrimination grievance or, worse still, employment tribunal action.
Jane Hallas, team leader and solicitor at WorkNest, said: “Although there is no specific legislation relating to the impact of menopause in the workplace, the Equality Act 2010 protects people from workplace discrimination related to ‘protected characteristics, which includes direct and indirect discrimination and harassment.
“An employee with menopause who is not given appropriate support is at risk of complaints of discrimination on the grounds of sex, age or disability. There are also risks of constructive and unfair dismissal claims if employees are not supported appropriately.”
In terms of solutions, the findings suggest that more education should be done in the workplace so that the subject is not taboo. As part of an organisation’s equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy, companies should consider incorporating menopause-specific support and training to address the issue.
Lorna Gemmell, Head of Employment Law and HR Training at WorkNest, adds: “While line managers are not expected to be experts on menopause, they should listen and, where possible, respond sympathetically to any requests for accommodation at work.
“In addition, menopause training can give managers the confidence to lead conversations and inform them of the potential impact of menopausal symptoms on an employee’s performance, as well as how to provide appropriate support.”
A workplace issue
Businesses should be concerned as they struggle to recruit due to skill shortages, especially when another Fawcett Society survey found that one in ten women who have worked through (“menopause”) have left their jobs because of their symptoms. Employees who are not adequately supported will leave the workplace, adding to organisations’ recruitment difficulties.
Hallas concluded, “Menopause is a workplace issue, so a lack of knowledge about menopause can mean that an employee can be misdiagnosed and have ongoing health problems, preventing them from carrying out their normal role and taking time off work.”
In this article, you learned that:
- 65% of employers do not offer any menopause-specific support to their employees
- Only 15% of managers and employees openly discuss menopause in the workplace
- Nearly seven in ten line managers (68%) also do not understand the legal risks and obligations of managing staff during menopause