Bosses must do more to support menopausal staff at work, warn experts

Bosses must do more to help menopausal staff as they face stigma and ignorance about the condition, experts warn

  • Working menopausal women face stigma about condition, UK survey found
  • Almost two thirds of women said office did not adopt measures to help them
  • Earlier report said one million menopausal women could be forced out of jobs 

Employers must create a more ‘understanding’ environment to make fair adjustments for women experiencing the menopause, legal experts have told MPs.

Menopausal women who work face stigma and ignorance about the condition, the women and equalities committee heard yesterday.

Menopause should be a protected characteristic in employment law rather than a disability in discrimination cases, lawyers said.

The committee’s inquiry into menopause and the workplace heard evidence two days after research indicated more than one million women in the UK could be forced out of jobs this year because of a lack of employer support during the menopause.

Almost two-thirds of women surveyed said their workplace had not introduced any kind of policy to make things easier for them. 

Lawyers suggested that employees should have direct access to occupational health services instead of via their employer.

Menopausal women who work face stigma and ignorance about the condition, the women and equalities committee heard yesterday. (file photo )

They said employers could do more to enforce current legislation but clearer guidance needed to be provided.

Adam Pavey, director of employment and HR at commercial lawyers Pannone Corporate, told the committee: ‘This is a knowledge exercise that must apply to men as well as women. Menopause is more than just having a hot flush from time to time.

‘When an employee feels there is no understanding, they stand no chance of overcoming difficulties.

‘Organisations should have policies related to the menopause, but it must come with training and understanding.’ 

No current legislation requires employers to have a policy relating to menopause and its symptoms.

Menopause is not a protected characteristic under the law – unlike race, religion or age – with employees often forced to claim disability discrimination instead.

Colin Davidson, of the Discrimination Law Association, said ’employers and employees would benefit’ from change. ‘Employees do not believe they will be heard by a sympathetic ear,’ he added. 

‘You have to sue for disability just to get minor adjustments in the workplace.’

There are also issues with the legal process, according to Marian Bloodworth, chairman of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Last month Dr Heather Currie, a former head of the British Menopause Society, suggested every workplace should have a ‘menopause champion’ to offer support.

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