In Brief: A Menopause Special

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 2 August 2021
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Menopause; Gender Equality; Workplace Polices

This month’s 'In Brief' is all about menopause in the workplace. Awareness of the importance of recognising and providing support for women experiencing symptoms of menopause has become heightened this year, and lots of useful resources and articles have been produced. We’ve pulled them all together in the same place, so you don’t have to. 

Menopause and work. What does one have to do with the other? 

Sometimes nothing. And it would be great if that was always the case. Some women sail through their menopause with barely a symptom, but it’s not an easy transition for all. The website “Menopause in the Workplace” has some useful statistics demonstrating why menopause is an important issue and should be included in any HR strategy. 

One reason why it is important to have a policy and provide an opportunity for women to raise issues relating to the menopause is the fact that as reported by the CIPD in an international survey of 5,012 employees who had gone through the menopause and were in work at some point during it, conducted by Vodafone, 33 per cent said they hid symptoms and nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) said it had impacted them at work.   

MPs Launch Inquiry into Lack of Support for Menopausal Women at Work 

The People Management reports that businesses are being asked to consider how they approach menopause in the workplace after a parliamentary inquiry into the issue was launched on Friday 23 July.  The Women and Equalities Committee plan to redress gender equality including laws that protect people going through the menopause against discrimination.  The inquiry will scrutinise legislation and workplace practices to ask if enough is being done to address the issue. There have been calls for further legislation to require employers to have a workplace menopause policy to protect people going through it from discrimination while at work.  

Equality Commission Guidance 

Closer to home, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Labour Relations Agency (LRA), have produced a useful and practical guide for employers. It’s short, to the point and covers everything. So worth a read. The full guidance can be found here.  

You can listen again to our recent Employment Law@11 webinar as we discuss the guidance with Seamus McGranaghan and Helen Smyth of the LRA. 

Case Law 

Merchant v British Telecommunications plc [2011] 

Failure to treatment menopause as you would any other medical condition can amount to direct sex discrimination.  A full case review can be found here.  

Ms M Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service [2018] 

If menopause symptoms are sufficiently long term and substantial, it may be deemed a disability. The full case can be found here.  

A v Bon Marche Ltd [2020] 

A claimant subjected to a lengthy course of harassment and abuse by her line manager in relation to being a female of menopausal age was found to have been discriminated against.  The full case is here.   

Legal Island Resources 

eLearning Course: The menopause is a difficult subject to talk about - it is intensely personal, but it is also essential to understand how it affects people's ability to perform at work.  

The purpose of this course is to improve your staff’s understanding of the menopause and help create a more comfortable working environment for women experiencing the menopause. This course is for all employees, regardless of gender. 

To find out more about this course and for your FREE demo on behalf of your organisation click here

Leeanne Armstrong, TLT NI LLP outlines the importance of and key considerations for developing a menopause policy here

A couple of organisations in NI have developed menopause policies which are available on the links below: 

  • Anne Dougan of Think People Consulting discusses various ways employers can aid women experiencing menopause, including understanding the symptoms and what to consider as reasonable adjustments in this area. 

More articles and webinars can be found here on the Legal Island hub.  

In the media 

Here in Northern Ireland, high-profile women, prompted by an initial Tweet by the BBC’s Marie-Louise Connolly, shared their personal experiences of the menopause on social media. More here. :  

Over on Channel 4, Davina McCall presented her story entitled “Sex, Myths and the Menopause”. A link to this interesting and candid documentary can be found here.   

And if you, or your employees, need a helpful App, here’s one to try out: 

This article is correct at 02/08/2021

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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