Northern Ireland Employment Law In Brief - Menopause Special - October 2022Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 12 October 2022 Issues covered: Menopause; Well-being; Policies; Protected Characteristic
This month’s 'In Brief' brings together a range of resources and articles that we’ve found interesting in recognition of World Menopause Day on 18th October 2022.
Why do we Need a Menopause Day?
On World Menopause Day 2021 Lauren Farrell of Think People Consulting offered some advice and guidance for employers explaining that “the purpose of the day is to raise awareness on the menopause and support options for improving health and wellbeing”.
Menopause has risen up the agenda for HR professionals in the last number of years, as well as hitting the political agenda with the BBC reporting that there are calls from MPs for all women to have a menopause check at age 45. They label the current support 'completely inadequate'.
Meanwhile, Queen’s University has launched two new policies designed to offer support to staff experiencing the menopause and those undergoing fertility treatment, whilst raising awareness of the issues with line managers and other staff members. Read more from Conor Curran of QUB HERE.
Courtney Cox was the first person to say ‘period’ in a US TV commercial in 1985. Courtney even recreated a tongue in cheek ad for menopause parodying the original 1985 ad. There’s been a realisation ‘women’s problems’ (hushed whisper) impact on work and need to be spoken about openly. So we’re here to give you the resources to do just that……..
Can Menopause be a Protected Characteristic?
For some employees menopausal symptoms can lead to increased absence from work and can affect their work performance. Menopause is not a protected characteristic in and of itself, however, a recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case, Rooney v Leicester City Council (2021), determined that an employee’s menopausal symptoms amounted to a disability. More on this from Chris Fullerton of Arthur Cox HERE.
Introducing a Menopause Policy - How Do I Handle It?
A Legal Island subscriber sought guidance from the Employment Team at Tughans on this issue and they provided a comprehensive answer. To make a start on your own workplace Menopause Policy, have a look at their guidance HERE.
We also heard from Helen Smyth of the Labour Relations Agency on the development of the LRA Menopause guidance which was produced in conjunction with the Equality Commission NI and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Find the Guidance HERE and read what Helen had to say about it, and how to develop your own policy HERE. You can also listen again to the full webinar.
Workplace Menopause Support Group – Why YOU Should have One!
Legal Island has established its own in-house menopause support group for employees, affectionately known as CoCo or “Cardigan’s On, Cardigan’s Off” in recognition of the need to dress in anticipation of the next hot flush! Here’s what some of the members have to say:
“For me the Coco group has been a dolly mixture of being entertaining, enlightening and life changing. It made me feel that within Legal Island I had a support group of women who were feeling the same as me and were experiencing similar symptoms to me. The group has given me the courage to seek help from my GP thus allowing me to get on with my work and life whilst navigating perimenopause. I would highly recommend a Coco group in every organisation.”
“From the inaugural Coco meeting I realised I was in a comfortable safe environment not set up to simply tick a box for Legal Island but set up to empower women. I can voice my health concerns without being judged and practical tips come flooding back to support me with my worries. The group may be small, but the knowledge is staggering!”
“Our Coco meetings are fantastic! I initially joined the meetings as I wanted to learn more about perimenopause and quickly discovered I was experiencing more symptoms than I first thought. It was great to chat with my colleagues about the less commonly known perimenopausal symptoms and to listen to their experiences. Thanks to our group, I have finally made an appointment with my GP to discuss how I’ve been feeling and the treatment options available to me.”
What About the Men?
It would be easy for men to dismiss menopause as a “woman’s issue”, but every man has a mum, sister, partner, friend or colleague who will experience perimenopause and menopause and can play their part by learning what it’s all about and becoming an ally. Joe Wicks is leading the conversation for men in his trademark style:
- Joe Wicks talks to Davina McCall: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChdBh1_I0Mo/
- Joe Wicks talks to Dr Louisa Newson: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChvCKrCIGnr/
Menopause Training Resources
Legal Island has created a Menopause eLearning course, designed 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.
Click HERE to get a FREE demo of this course on behalf of your organisation.
Other useful resources:
- BUPA: Menopause at Work
- Catch up with the most vocal campaigner for Menopause rights, Davina McCall on Channel 4
- Track your symptoms with the Balance App https://www.balance-menopause.com/balance-app/ developed by Dr Louisa Newson.
- Head to a Menopause Café in Belfast https://www.menopausecafe.net/events/menopause-cafe-belfast/
- Needs some local menopause information? Head to https://menopausewellbeingni.com/
- Also, Leeanne Armstrong, TLT NI LLP discusses what you should include in a Menopause Policy in her Employee Handbook series.
- The following NI employers have developed their own Menopause policies:
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.