3 Reasons to have open workplace discussions on menopause
Menopause is one of those topics that many people shy away from. For women experiencing symptoms, they’re sometimes too embarrassed to talk about it. Especially in the workplace. However, it is an important discussion to have because it can impact more than just employees and their ability to function properly at work.
In a recent webinar we were fortunate to host Julie Dennis who runs one of the UK’s leading menopause consultancies. Her purpose is to educate leaders and ensure people working through the menopause continue to thrive at work and at home. You can watch the full webinar here: https://youtu.be/Tae5IJQOIh4
In this article we summarise the discussions with Julie on why menopause is something all employers should be engaging on to mitigate the impacts on their business.
Currently there is no specific employment legislation in place to protect people with menopause, but this doesn’t mean that there’s no legal protection at all. 3 of the 9 protective characteristics from the 2010 Equality Act can be applied to menopause and have already be upheld in employment tribunals. They are: age; sex; and disability. While age and sex may be obvious, the reason that disability is included is that the symptoms of menopause can have a long term effect that impact a person’s ability to go about day to day activities. In the eyes of the law it’s not menopause itself that is defined as a disability but rather it considers the effects of the symptoms of menopause. This legal risk alone is compelling reason for businesses to have a menopause policy.
Many companies are well aware that the financial cost of having find replacement staff plus the loss of expertise and knowledge when a person leaves should be avoided if possible. A recent survey by CIPD reported that close on a million people are believed to have left the workplace because of menopause symptoms. The primary reason cited are not being able to manage the symptoms of menopause in a working environment as well as not being able to access any form of support at their workplace. As a result, they’ve recently launched a campaign to encourage more discussion in the workplace and made resources available to businesses. This is great news because companies shouldn’t be losing employees when there is a solution available.
With UK experiencing a skills shortage across many industry sectors, many businesses are relying on their reputation to attract good candidates. A key element to being a business of choice for prospective employees is a culture where it’s acceptable to talk about sensitive topics such as menopause. Additionally having a clear policy in place with guidelines for both managers and employees will help people navigate through the process and mitigate for any possible negative impacts.
As you can see, there is absolutely a business case for having a menopause policy in place. The benefits are not just for the affected employees but also for the business as a whole. If HR managers would like to read more on the 3 R’s, Julie has created a whitepaper on the topic which can be downloaded at www.juliedennis.net/whitepaper2021.
Our next blog in this 3 part series on menopause will discuss what menopause is, what the symptoms are and how it can impact employees in the workplace.
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