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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

International event puts the spotlight on menopause

World Menopause Day takes place today in a move to make employers and their staff aware of the problems that women face in the workplace.

For some, menopause symptoms can become so unmanageable, they’re forced to leave their job.

World Menopause Day is an international event held every year on 18 October. It was created by the International Menopause Society (IMS) to raise awareness and improve health and well-being for women in mid-life and beyond.

Menopause and the law

According to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), employers should make sure they know how menopause relates to the law.

This includes the Equality Act 2010, which protects workers against discrimination, and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which says an employer must, where reasonably practical, ensure everyone’s health, safety and welfare at work.

If an employee or worker is put at a disadvantage and treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms, this could be discrimination if related to a protected characteristic, for example:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sex

Recently, a report from a committee of MPs said menopause should be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act in its own right.

The Women and Equalities Committee’s (WEC) Menopause and the Workplace report,  was published at the end of July.

The findings, from a cross-party committee of MPs, stated that the lack of support was forcing “highly skilled and experienced” workers out of the labour market, and the country was “haemorrhaging talent” as a result.

What can employers do to help?

There are a number of ways to make life more comfortable, which could include:

  • Recognising that menopause can be a challenging experience and offering support
  • Talking openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause
  • Being aware of its effects
  • Encouraging staff to raise any menopause concerns
  • Being aware of how the different stages of menopause can affect staff

In practical everyday terms:

  • Be flexible with breaks, rather than sticking to a schedule
  • Make sure the workplace is well-ventilated and comfortable with access to fans
  • Ensure cold water is available
  • Provide easy access to washing and toilet facilities
  • Where possible, put limits on the amount of time personal protective equipment is worn

Need advice on supporting staff with menopause in the workplace? Contact our team today.

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