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The Menopause and Protection in the Workplace

 

By Richard Neary

There is growing awareness of the importance of addressing the approach in the workplace to the menopause. The subject is being debated in Parliament and there is some appetite for producing legislation to specifically support those going through the menopause who may be dealing with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, memory loss and fatigue. Some employers are ahead of the curve and have produced menopause policies and have introduced practices that will support staff and up-skill managers to handle situations with due care and attention. There is a growing demographic of women between 45 and 60 in the workplace so there is some urgency for employers to get on top of this. Clearly, there is legal risk in getting this wrong as employers may expose themselves to potential sex, age and/or disability discrimination claims (amongst others) if they take action against employees and have not considered the appropriate support, flexibility, adjustments and accommodations. However, the primary focus ought not to be on risk avoidance but instead on creating workplaces within which employees in all circumstances may thrive and feel that they can talk openly about issues facing them without concerns about not being taken seriously, or being marginalised. It is anticipated that this will be a subject of increasing importance and publicity over the coming months and so employers should think carefully about raising it high up the strategic HR agenda and addressing it in the near term.

British MPs are pushing for clear workplace policies to protect women going through the menopause, which exacts a hefty personal and professional toll on as many as one in four females. A menopause policy should be as commonplace as maternity schemes in businesses and organisations, said the MPs, some of whom want legislation to force through the reforms.
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