The menopause and its effect on women increasingly features in the news. With government figures showing that the employment of women aged 50 and above is also on the increase, it is not surprising that businesses are now including menopause policies in staff handbooks. These policies can provide a framework for handling these situations appropriately and typically outline the process for dealing with menopause related issues in the workplace as well as signposting individuals to support that is available.
But is this enough? In short, no. Other key considerations are training and process interaction.
Menopause symptoms can be both physical and psychological, and vary in severity. And with it still being a taboo subject for many, it is important that managers are appropriately trained to deal with the issues the symptoms can cause. This training should include how to handle these situations sensitively and confidentially – the right to privacy being observed at all times. Ideally, mechanisms for raising general awareness amongst the workforce should also be rolled out.
Processes should be designed to mitigate against the risk of discrimination claims. Disability and sex discrimination claims have been successfully brought by women who were treated inappropriately when experiencing menopause–related symptoms at work. It is also important to ensure that these processes properly interact with other management processes – in particular, ill health absence policies, performance management processes and disciplinary procedures. Equally, risk assessment should take account of the potential for employees experiencing menopause-related symptoms to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation. Finally, data protection principles must be a business obtained information about an employee’s health. It is therefore checking privacy notices as well as the businesses retention practice.
It’s anticipated that this is an area of law that businesses will increasingly need to address and so it’s worth getting it right at the outset.Wilson Browne Solicitors offer guidance for employers through the ever-changing world of employment law– rest assured your business will be in good hands.