Supporting menopause in the workplace
The number of women in employment aged 50-64, has risen by 50% in the past 30 years, the effect being that more women than ever, are working whilst going through the menopause.
Whilst there is no specific legislation which addresses the impact of the menopause in the workplace, there are regulations that require employers to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees. Accordingly, employers are at risk of claims of sex and disability discrimination, age-related harassment and victimisation under the Equality Act 2010 which could arise from unfavourable treatment of female employees who are experiencing the menopause.
In the case of Merchant v BT plc, a female employee was dismissed due to poor performance. It was the employer’s policy that there should be an investigation into whether underperformance was due to health factors. Ms Merchant had provided her manager with a letter from her GP which confirmed that her menopausal symptoms were adversely affecting her. Despite this, the manager did not investigate the impact of menopause on her performance at work. The tribunal upheld Ms Merchant’s claims of unfair dismissal and direct sex discrimination on the grounds that the manager would never have adopted “this bizarre and irrational approach” with other non-female-related conditions.
This case is a clear reminder that employers must be proactive in how they support women going through menopause given the potential discrimination and unfair dismissal issues that can arise.
Niki Avraam, Employment Law Partner at Howat Avraam Solicitors comments:
It is important for employers to be aware of steps which they can take to educate their workforce about menopause and provide support to older women to assist them at work. It is no longer acceptable to ignore what has historically been a “no go” subject.
Howat Avraam Solicitors provide Commercial, Employment and Contract Dispute advice to companies and business owners. As business owners ourselves, we have a pragmatic in-house approach to resolving issues before they arise by working alongside our clients. We are commercial, practical and entrepreneurial in our approach to legal services.
To discuss any employment matter on a no obligation basis, please contact Niki Avraam, Employment Partner, on 020 3735 6708 or email Niki at Niki.Avraam@hasolicitors.co.uk. Alternatively, visit our website at www.howatavraamsolicitors.co.uk.