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Menopause Making Headlines

27 February 2024

Story by
Simon Kent Head of Content – The HR World

Caption motivator text Menopause management in square album, notebook with spiral binder. Wooden pen, dry eucalyptus twig, wooden heart shape. Soft natural light. Monochromatic beige color hues.

At the end of last week the mainstream news heavily featured the responsibility of employers to respect people who were managing the menopause.

The story arose through guidance published by Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) promoting awareness of the legal risks when managing menopausal employees.

Charlotte Ashton, Associate Solicitor at esphr commented: “Symptoms vary between people but in cases where they are more serious, it could amount to a disability under the Equality Act. This means they’re not only protected under the Equality Act against discrimination but there is also a legal duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace. Before utilising performance management or absence management processes, employers should consider what, if any, reasonable adjustments can and should be made to minimise the effects of the symptoms on the person’s ability to perform their role and attend work more regularly.”

Interestingly, Sharon MacArthur, founder and owner of Miss Menopause believes the story could be seen as old news with a new headline. She notes that the Equality Act has been around since 2010 and while Menopause isn’t a protected characteristic it could sit under the umbrella headings of age, sex and disability.

“Let’s think about this logically,” she says. “Who has on their bucket list ‘can’t wait to go to a tribunal’ – which means if you are intent on making menopause ‘business as usual’ there is no need to be unduly concerned.

Small reasonable adjustments

“Small reasonable adjustments are the order of the day and in most cases will already be in your business,” she continues. “Think disclosure of pregnancy – what might you do? A work station review which may lead to equipment such as a desk fan or a foot rest? Repurpose to menopause. A good employer is a good employer and I’m sure you already have a lot of things in your small reasonable adjustment tool kit? Change of hours, time off for appointments etc. Keep it simple because it really is.”

Since all businesses are different and complex many are looking for education to help them see the world through a menopause lens – which is where Miss Menopause comes in. The programme delivered by MacArthur means everyone in the business can get involved and become educated.

“If you’re really stuck ask your people, they are the experts,” says MacArthur. “Set them a task. You may or may not have a budget be clear around your expectations and they will help you to shape what might be fair and reasonable for them? Never underestimate the power of just having a conversation. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse.”

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