Why is menopause a concern for your business?
Menopause can cause a chain reaction of physical and psychological side-effects to a woman’s body, some of which can last for a number of years. It is therefore important that organisations have a clear and open system for supporting individuals who are going through the menopause, ensuring that any worker who needs additional support feels able to approach management on the issue and are fully aware of the steps that can be taken by the company on their behalf.
The advantages of effectively responding to menopause in the workplace
Organisations have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees, and to undertake risk assessments to assess risks that the workplace may pose. In addition, the Equality Act 2010 outlines that individuals must not be discriminated against due to any form of disability. Although an individual going through the menopause is not automatically protected by the provisions of the Act, the symptoms that can arise from menopause may be classed as a disability if they meet the required definition.
To defend against any liabilities, and potentially costly compensation awards, organisations that take steps to offer support and assistance to all individuals who are going through the menopause will experience real benefits. By fostering a workplace where employees feel safe, organisations are more likely to retain the skills and experience of its employees.
Creating a policy
To clearly outline organisational procedures that are in place to support and assist those going through the menopause, it may be useful to create an official policy.
A policy on the menopause may include the following:
- A general introduction, highlighting what the policy is for
- An outline the aims and objectives of the policy
- Legislative compliance, including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Equality Act 2010.
- The key principles of providing assistance for the menopause
- Any support that the organisation offers
Carrying out risk assessments
The Health and Safety at Work Act requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their workers. As such, risk assessments to any potential risks to menopausal women should be undertaken.
Poorly adapted workplace environments and practices can make the symptoms worse, which is why it is essential the company is able to fully respond to these particular requirements. In particular, issues that should always be taken into consideration include temperature ventilation, toilet facilities and access to cold water. In response, employers should undertake regular risk assessments that can identify areas that can be of detriment to the specific needs of individuals going through the menopause.
Time off work
In situations where the symptoms are severe, it may be necessary for individuals to take time away from work. It is important that employers remain flexible enough to support their workers in these situations and to ensure support is provided where necessary. Holding a return to work meeting will be valuable to assess any support required.
Providing appropriate training and awareness
Individuals respond differently to the menopause and it is essential that your organisation is fully aware of this fact. Some women may be relatively unaffected whilst others experience significant difficulties for prolonged periods of time.
Organisations should therefore ensure that all line managers and HR representatives are fully conversant with the organisation’s policy on responding to the menopause and are fully able to respond to it in a non-discriminatory and open manner. Essentially, workers should feel comfortable and secure approaching this topic with their managers.
aspire cambridge can support your business through managing employees going through menopause with the provision of a suitable policy. For further information contact our team of CIPD accredited HR Consultants on 01223 855441.