BBC presenter Louise Minchin has been talking about her experiences of the menopause. It’s not an easy topic of conversation but given that seven out of ten women of menopausal age are in work in the UK, it’s something employers need to address.
Research claims that women experience difficulty looking for work or reducing their working hours during menopause and that some women consider their careers are affected and have even lost their jobs as a result.
Failing to take into account the sometimes debilitating effects of the menopause has already landed some employers in trouble. One employee was dismissed following a final warning for poor performance despite providing a letter from her doctor explaining that she was “going through the menopause which can affect her level of concentration at times”. The tribunal upheld her claims of direct sex discrimination and unfair dismissal and held that the manager, who disregarede the letter, would never have adopted “this bizarre and irrational approach with other non-female-related conditions”.
In another case the menopause was found to be a disability and the Tribunal held that an employee had been dismissed “because of something arising in consequence of her disability”.
To avoid claims, employers need to be training managers about the menopause and expressly mentioning it in diversity and equality training sessions. Absence policies should accommodate women experiencing the menopause.
Consider the working environment too. Ensure access to fans, good ventilation and the ability to control temperature, and make sure there are clean and comfortable toilet facilities near work stations.
Half the population will go through the menopause, so let's get talking.
BBC Breakfast floor manager is filmed having a hot flush to show the reality of menopause - as Louise Minchin admits her own night-sweats feel like she's 'run a marathon in a jungle'