November 3, 2019

Big Companies Leading the Way in Employment Rights with Menopause Policy

This post was written by: Ilinca Mardarescu

Big Companies Leading the Way in Employment Rights with Menopause Policy

Channel 4 is among many big employers to now introduce a ‘menopause policy’ for their employees. This is backed by MP’s who have recently called for policies such as this to become common-place.  And indeed the figures speak for themselves – CIPD research claims that women over the age of 50 are one of the fastest growing demographic in the UK workforce and that 59% of women claim to have experienced menopausal symptoms which have had a negative impact at work.  It seems clear that it’s about time companies begin to think about implementing a policy to help their affected staff.

But, what is a Menopause policy exactly?

A menopause policy aims to support employees who are experiencing menopausal symptoms, which can include hot flushes, anxiety and fatigue. The policy can help outline ways in which women can ease their symptoms helping improve their engagement, well-being and opening the discussion what can sometimes be seen as a taboo subject.

With big companies like Channel 4, Google and CIPD implementing and bringing the idea into the workplace consciousness, it is opening up critical conversations which are essential for helping and support women with their transition through the menopause.

Channel 4’s Policy for example includes things like flexible working, paid leave and adjusted working environments such as quiet and cool work spaces. These insights and actions come from regular workplace assessments to make sure the environment is just right for women dealing with menopausal symptoms.

A call to bring a Menopause Policy into the Law

With some MP’s calling for more of an understanding and widespread implementation of a Menopause Policy, like MP Carloyn Harris saying: “You wouldn’t dream of having a workplace where people weren’t entitled to certain things because they were pregnant, and it’s exactly the same for women with the menopause. I firmly believe there should be legislation to make sure every workplace has a menopause policy, just like they have a maternity policy.”

And, the CIPD putting in place a manifesto which puts to the Government statements like; “The Government should ensure that menopause is referenced as a priority issue in its public policy agenda on work, diversity and inclusion”, “The Government should nominate a Menopause Ambassador to represent the interests of women experiencing menopause transition across Government departments” and “The Government should support an employer-led campaign to raise awareness of the menopause as a workplace issue” It’s clear that this important issue is coming to light and should spur the Government to begin making changes.

Currently, the only potential claims would be for either sex discrimination or disability discrimination where the symptoms were severe enough.  This leaves women going through the menopause vulnerable at a time when they need support most.

Implementing your own policy

If you own a business and employ workers over the age of 50 who will soon be experiencing symptoms of the menopause it’s important to provide some kind of policy and/or guideline to help them with the inevitable discomforts it will cause them.

Things you can include in the policy:

  • Flexible Working
  • Paid Leave
  • Environmental Changes like cool, private rooms.
  • Implementing a ‘Menopause Champion’
  • Workplace Assessments
  • Mental Health Support

If you’re keen to implement a policy like this or need a complete overhaul of your company polices, we can assist. Please don’t hesitate to contact our Head of Employment Law, Ilinca Mardarescu.