A YouGov poll has found that almost 72% of companies do not currently have a menopause policy in place. Furthermore, almost half do not train their staff about the effects of menopause and only 16% train line managers on how to address the menopause at work.
The statistics are concerning, although there have been some positive steps in the right direction and media coverage is helping to keep the issue on the agenda. One major high street retailer recently announced it would pay for employees’ hormone replacement therapy and another large employer has offered its female staff access to menopause resources and desk fans to overcome hot flushes.
Meanwhile, the Women and Equalities Committee has been discussing whether menopause should become a legally protected characteristic. Currently women have to use age, sex, or disability as their protected characteristic if they want to pursue litigation.
By introducing a menopause policy, organisations are providing an opportunity for conversations around the topic and a framework by which women can feel supported. This is important when we consider that less than 10% of women going through the perimenopause and menopause speak to their line manager about their symptoms and this silence restricts opportunities to signpost individuals to get the medical help they need and put supportive measures in place for them at work (Dr Louise Newson, Creating and working in a menopause confident organisation).
As Dr Newson says: “This is not just an issue for women or HR staff. Most men will live with or have relationships or friendships with women outside of work as well as professional relationships with women inside work.”
Dr Newson’s research found that almost a fifth of women with menopausal or peri-menopausal symptoms took more than eight weeks’ leave, and half of these women resigned or took early retirement.
Organisations that are aware of the challenges women face during the menopause and have taken steps to make sure they feel supported and understood are best placed to retain employees who are highly experienced and have many more years of talent to offer.
For advice and information on employment law policy contact Richard Port firstname.lastname@example.org