Are menopause policies good for business?30/05/2022
Conversations about menopause policies in the workplace are certainly nothing new, but the current HRT shortage hitting the UK has put the issue back in the spotlight.
Menopause often remains a taboo subject in the workplace despite the fact that it can cause huge disruption to women and trans and non-binary people who experience it.
After all, the average age that a person will reach menopause is 51 years old, a whole 15 years before the State Pension age of 66 years old – which is set to rise in coming years.
This means that many workers are likely to be affected in the workplace, with common symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, headaches and mood changes, to name just a few.
Despite the fact menopause symptoms can last anywhere from four to 12 years and can cause huge stress and disruption in day to day life, a menopause policy isn’t required by employment law.
However, having one in place can not only ensure that staff feel supported and valued during what can be a very difficult and stressful time, but can also be good for business.
When menopause is treated as a taboo subject in the workplace, those affected will likely suffer in silence, which could lead to poor employee engagement, low morale, reduced performance and even resignations.
An inclusive workplace where menopause is treated sensitively, such as allowing staff proper support and extra time off when they are unable to work, will reduce unauthorised absences and could also improve working relationships by minimising potential conflicts.
Implementing a specific menopause policy can also raise awareness among staff who aren’t personally affected, which opens the door to introduce further discussion and training so that they can better support their co-workers.
And employers should be warned that even if they don’t have a policy in place, they still have a duty to protect their staff against discrimination.
Even if not intended maliciously, jokes in the workplace about menopause-related symptoms fall under the protected characteristics of age and sex, and employers should be careful that menopausal staff aren’t disadvantaged, such as being passed over for promotion due to increased absences.
More and more businesses are going the extra mile to stand out from the crowd in order to attract the best possible candidates.
And with benefits such as hybrid working, flexi-time and wellness packages becoming increasingly attractive to jobseekers, it might not be long before menopause policies join that list.
Our expert employment team are on hand to help advise on workplace policies.