Studies have shown peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of workers in the workplace and knowing how to manage the impact of these symptoms is an essential matter both for workers, managers and their HR companions.
The Menopause and the law
There are two main strands of law that relate to the peri-menopause and the menopause state. These are:
- The Equality Act 2010, which protects workers against discrimination. This includes elements relating to their sex, disability and age; and
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which says an employer must, where reasonably practical, ensure health, safety and welfare at work.
Managing the impact through this legislation is important for both staff and the business alike.
What can employers do to help?
Employers have responsibilities for the health and safety of all their employees and for a worker going through the peri-menopausal and menopausal state it can be a very difficult and stressful time. Employers should recognise that women of menopausal age may need specific considerations and many employers are yet to put in place clear processes to support women coping with menopausal symptoms.
To meet these expectations what can an employer do?
Make sure health and safety checks are suitable
Ensuring menopausal symptoms are not made worse by the workplace and/or work practices by making changes to help a worker manage their symptoms when doing the job. Ensure:
- The temperature and ventilation in the workplace are suitable;
- Review the materials used in a worker’s uniform, if there is one, and whether the uniform might make a worker feel too hot or worsen skin irritation;
- Locate somewhere suitable for the worker to rest or take a break;
- Identify whether toilet and washroom facilities are easily available;
- Ensue cold drinking water is easily available.
Bring managers up to speed on the topic of conversation and ensure they understand:
- How to have a conversation with a worker raising a peri-menopause or menopause concern;
- Understand how the peri-menopause and menopause can affect a worker;
- Identify what support and/or changes for the worker might be required;
- Provide an understanding of the law relating to the menopause;
- Manage sickness absence or a dip in job performance accordingly;
- Give a worker the option of talking to someone other than their manager.