Working with the menopause - Matthew Clayton of Willans LLP solicitors
Menopause in the workplace is a topic at front and centre for many businesses in 2022.
Women between the ages of 40 and 55 are now the fastest growing demographic in the workplace and in 2022, one in six workers will be a woman aged 50 or over - many of them at a senior level.
Menopause is being discussed in the media more and more, and in October 2021 it was debated in the House of Commons. Employment tribunals are also seeing a growing number of cases of unfair dismissal and sex and age discrimination claims brought by employees experiencing menopausal symptoms, who have suffered poor treatment by their employers.
Insomnia, headaches, anxiety, 'brain fog' and palpitations are just some of the wide range of symptoms women undergoing the menopause or perimenopause can experience. For many women, the symptoms are so severe it can make working life challenging.
According to a 2019 survey carried out by BUPA and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) three in five women (usually aged between the ages of 45 and 55) were negatively affected at work due to their menopausal symptoms, and almost 900,000 women in the UK left their jobs for the same reason.
Many commentators have suggested that the menopause and its symptoms may soon become a recognised protected characteristic, which would provide greater protection for a significant proportion of the workforce.
Despite many businesses already working towards creating a more flexible and inclusive workplace, addressing issues that can arise for menopausal women is a next logical step on the way to creating a modern organisation that values female staff at the peak of their careers, which often coincides with menopause.
Offering flexible working hours, the option to work from home or even a different workplace set-up can provide solutions to the problems, however normalising menopause as a topic for consideration and discussion is the best way to start addressing the issues and help to create an inclusive working environment for employees at every stage of their working lives. Starting an open conversation about menopause and putting in place an effective menopause policy is the best way to engage employees and maintain their wellbeing and growth.
Pre-empting the inevitable future developments of the law surrounding menopause can be cost effective in the long term in respect of hiring costs, and unnecessary tribunal costs, but it can also help businesses to maintain a strong and successful workforce, enabling you to get the most of out of employees.
If your business is considering putting a menopause policy in place, our team of employment lawyers can help. Join us for a free webinar on Thursday 23 June to learn more about the policies and procedures to effectively support colleagues going through the menopause.
Matthew Clayton is a partner and head of Willans' Legal 500-rated employment and business immigration team. He has over 20 years of experience in the field.
For more information, please visit www.willans.co.uk or call 01242 514000.
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