This content was last reviewed 26 September 2022
Our webinar on menopause in the workplace discussed practical advice and solutions to help small businesses support themselves, their employees and line managers. Hannah Thomas answers frequently asked questions and outline the steps you can take in a clear format. You can watch the webinar in full here.
With a higher number of women in employment, more women than ever will be going through the menopause at work. A recent Parliamentary and a separate government inquiry invited evidence on existing workplace practices and views on whether current discrimination legislation sufficiently protects workers going through the menopause, or whether more needs to be done.
What should employers be doing?
There is no legal requirement for an employer to have a workplace menopause policy and many small businesses typically will not have formal written policies for many aspects of the workplace. However, having a menopause policy in place can help to make staff aware of the issues and of the support and procedures in place to better help those experiencing menopause symptoms to continue to do their job effectively. This in turn will help encourage a better work culture, staff retention, reduced absence and better workplace performance. It may also help reduce the risk of poor employee relations, poor employer reputation, or even employment tribunal claims.
ACAS guidance states that having a menopause policy can help everyone in the organisation understand:
- what the menopause is and how it can affect people
- how it affects everyone differently
- what support is available to staff affected by it
The menopause policy could also:
- explain what training is provided to managers, supervisors and team leaders
- explain who the organisation's point of contact is for queries related to the menopause
- show how the organisation is open and trained to talk and listen sensitively about the effects of the menopause
Rather than having a separate, standalone menopause policy, some employers may decide instead to deal with workplace issues related to the menopause in accordance with their existing policies, such as flexible working, sickness absence and equality policies and will direct their employees to those policies where appropriate.
What are the legal protections?
In terms of protection from workplace discrimination, the menopause is not a specific protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Under the Equality Act, menopause discrimination is largely covered under three protected characteristics: age, sex and disability discrimination. Although tribunal cases in relation to the menopause are rare, women have brought successful tribunal claims based on a protected characteristic in relation to the menopause.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides for safe working, which extends to the working conditions when experiencing menopausal symptoms. Employers have a legal duty to ensure that working conditions don’t exacerbate an employee’s symptoms. Employers should support people with menopausal symptoms in the same way as they would with any other health condition.
Where can I find a template menopause policy?
A template menopause policy is available on the FSB Legal and Business Hub, together with guidance notes. Our template policy sets out the support employees experiencing menopause systems can expect to receive in the workplace, referring to existing relevant policies and signposting staff to sources of advice and training on the menopause.