HR expert warns of need for employer awareness about menopause

A report out earlier this week shows a rise in employment tribunals linked to the menopause. An HR expert warns that employers need to take heed.

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An HR expert has warned employers to take menopause adjustments seriously after a report showed a growing number of women are taking their employers to court citing the menopause as proof of unfair dismissal and direct sex discrimination.

A report by Menopause Experts shows that, in the first six months of this year, there have been 10 employment tribunal claims referencing the claimant’s menopause, compared to 5 in 2018, 6 in 2019 and 16 in 2020.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says: “Employers may often overlook the impact of menopause on their female employees, but they do so at their peril. Whether out of embarrassment or ignorance, the signs that women are finding it difficult to work through severe physical effects of menopause may not be taken seriously. It’s clear that the practical result of a failure to act correctly is the prospect of more tribunal claims. With some menopausal employees classified as disabled, the consequences of failure to support women at this time in their lives are heftier.”

She added that women going through the menopause are protected from discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of their age, sex, or disability. Yet many are still feeling they have no option but to leave their jobs if they are affected by severe menopause-related issues and they feel that their employer is not being supportive.

An increasing number are enforcing their rights through the employment tribunal and there are calls for new legislation to require employers to have a specific menopause policy, said Palmer.

She stated: “It remains to be seen whether the Government will decide to change the law on this issue. However, taking a positive and proactive approach to managing the menopause at work can certainly help employers to retain valued staff, attract new talent, boost productivity, and improve workers’ wellbeing.”

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