Ministers have rejected a recommendation to make menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. There is a significant evidence base for the change, with more than two in five (44%) of women saying their ability to work had been affected due to the menopause. However, despite ministers rejecting the change in the law, businesses can still embed menopause support within their people practice, contracts, and policies.
With this in mind, here are 5 things your HR team can do today:
- Become a signatory to the Menopause Workplace Pledge, which commits employers to recognising the menopause as an issue in the workplace deserving of support, talking about the issue openly, positively and respectfully, and actively supporting employees affected by the menopause.
- Encourage openness about and awareness of the menopause in the workplace. Employers can do this by providing training to line managers and those who may not otherwise be aware of its impact, or by referring to the menopause in onboarding/ induction processes.
- Include a recognition of menopause in sickness policies so that those who need to take leave during the menopause are not adversely affected.
- Consider offering flexible working if not already offered.
- Adopt a clear menopause policy and/ or code of conduct so that any specific, targeted offering for those affected by the menopause is known about and understood.
When doing this, it’s important to remember that while demonstrating an understanding of the key issues, you must also avoid unconscious bias in assuming there might be a problem with women of a certain demographic. Getting the balance between the two is essential.
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