With just over 15 million women in the workplace, the last few years has seen a welcome focus on how the menopause can impact staff and what employers can do to best assist women through this stage.
Last week the Government responded to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report Menopause and the Workplace (July 2022).
The report had made a number of recommendations, including:
- introducing sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010 to protect women going through menopause
- launching a consultation on how to amend the Equalities Act 2010 to include ‘menopause’ as a new protected characteristic
What Are The Government’s Plans?
The Government’s response does not accept either of these recommendations, pointing to existing protections available for those experience menopause. This response was in many ways as expected and in accordance with previous government statements.
However, the Government has, in part, accepted some of the Committee’s other recommendations, including the appointment of a Menopause Ambassador/Champion, a ministerial appointment within the Department for Work and Pensions; and, bringing forward legislation to make the right to request flexible working a day one employment right.
No timetable has been announced in respect of introducing these provisions. We will keep you posted as and when the Government releases further details, and provide information of how they may affect your business.
How Can You Best Support Staff Going Through Menopause?
You may want to consider how best to support any staff currently going through the menopause. This could include:
- Introduce a Menopause Policy for staff. Many of you will have already done this, it is a useful way to show your support for staff, emphasise your commitment to addressing the impact of menopause and a useful way to channel any queries from staff.
- Appoint a Menopause Champion to act as a central point of contact for staff.
- Provide training for line managers on the symptoms of menopause and how to support and speak with staff who may be experiencing symptoms. This can be a sensitive subject and line managers are often the first point of contact for staff and may need guidance on how best to approach conversations such as this.
- Consider what can be done to help staff experiencing the menopause, for example considering home working and adjusting working times.
- Reviewing the working environment to ensure it is conducive to working if a member of staff is experiencing the menopause – for example, the room temperature and access to toilets.
- Create an open and trusted environment for staff. Implementing the recommendations above will help you to do this. Menopausal symptoms can be managed in a way that supports staff to be able to continue to work in the best interests of your business.