• April 19, 2024
 Firms must help menopausal workers, says BBC article

Firms must help menopausal workers, says BBC article

Menopause symptoms can be considered a disability and employers face being sued if they do not make “reasonable adjustments”, a watchdog has said.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have issued the guidance to clarify the legal obligations to workers going through the menopause.

Symptoms can include hot flushes, brain fog and difficulty sleeping, however there are plenty of other symptoms to be aware of.

The EHRC has said that bosses should offer changes such as providing rest areas or flexible hours to help.

Another option is relaxing uniform policies which could allow women to wear cooler clothes could also help.

The BBC provided this coverage and discussed it on the BBC’s Today programme.

Failing to make “reasonable adjustments” amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 if the symptoms have a “long-term and substantial impact” on a woman’s ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities, the EHRC said.

A video explaining the guidance has said:

“The costs of failing to make workplace adjustments for staff can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds when taking into account the loss of talent and costs of defending a claim.”

The EHRC have cited research showing that one in 10 women surveyed who worked during their menopause were forced to leave their job due to the symptoms, and two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 60 experienced menopausal symptoms at work, which largely had a negative impact. The video said that very few asked for adjustments during this time because they were concerned about the potential reaction, it added.

The EHRC also added that taking disciplinary action against women for a menopause related-absence could amount to discrimination, and that language that ridicules someone’s symptoms could constitute harassment.

EHRC chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner said the watchdog was

“concerned both by how many women report being forced out of a role due to their menopause-related symptoms, and how many don’t feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments”.

Falkner added that employers “may not fully understand their responsibility to protect their staff going through the menopause”, and that the new guidance had been issued to provide advice on how they can support their staff.

Women’s health campaigner and author of Everything you need to know about the menopause (but were too afraid to ask) Kate Muir said that the announcement was a “side alley” in the wider conversation around menopause.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Muir said:

“It’s not a disability, it’s something every woman goes through and legislation is not going to give you your missing hormones back.”

Ms Muir said the main focus should be promoting “menopause education” to inform women about “safer kinds of HRT which mean they don’t need to have symptoms at all”.

She continued by saying that the NHS should be providing women with a “proper consultation” when they go through the menopause, as she believes “good HRT” protects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Muir concluded that:

“Those are the messages we should be getting out to women so they can work, be powerful and go through this stage and be happy.”

Rebecca Morgan, Editor

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