New ACAS guidance on menopause
Around 2 million women aged over 50 have difficulties at work due to their menopause symptoms and it is estimated that 1 in 20 women could go through an early menopause. Half of the population will go through the menopause and yet it has historically been off limits as a discussion topic. Menopause is now an issue for employees more than ever, with older workers expected to stay in work for longer. ACAS has produced some practical guidance on handling queries and supporting staff going through menopause in the workplace.
The guidance explains what menopause is and the potentially debilitating symptoms it can produce for women. It suggests potential adjustments, from providing desk fans and extra rest breaks to being flexible about start and finish times.
Handling menopause symptoms carefully is essential rather than good practice. Handling things badly could also result in age and sex discrimination claims. Menopause symptoms have also been accepted as a disability in tribunal proceedings. Managing staff who are struggling with menopause effectively will help you retain your best talent and reduce recruitment costs.
The main message from the guidance is the importance of openness about the subject and understanding of its effect. Key to this is creating an environment where employees feel confident to raise the subject. A policy is helpful in starting the conversation and educating staff at all levels.
We can assist with preparation and implementation of a menopause guidance and model policy so please do contact us if you need assistance with this. Please contact Nick Jones or Cecily Donoghue in our Bristol office.