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Menopause Workplace Pledge

More than 600 companies have signed up to the Menopause Workplace Pledge which aims to counteract the appalling and not often talked about statistic that “almost 900,000 women in the UK have quit their jobs due to the menopause”. Often referred to as the ‘menopause drain’ in which women have felt no other option than to quit the workplace, this is perhaps another reason in addition to the earlier so-called ‘motherhood penalty’ that means parity in senior positions has yet to be reached.

By signing the Menopause Workplace Pledge, employers are promising to “recognise the menopause as a workplace issue, to talk openly about the menopause and actively support employees affected by the menopause”. Initiatives by recent signatories include training, awareness, paying for prescriptions, ensuring uniform is fit for purpose, and installing desk fans.

Explaining that “nearly five million women aged 50-64 were currently in employment in the UK, representing the fastest growing demographic in the workplace”, Professor Dame Lesley Regan, chair of Wellbeing of Women, was quoted as saying “for the first time in history, women are likely to be menopausal or post-menopausal for a longer period of time than they were reproductive.”

Meanwhile Irwin Mitchell have released a recent report that found almost three-quarters of firms (72%) do not have a menopause policy. Using data from a YouGov poll of 1,025 HR professionals that they commissioned, they also found that “almost two thirds (64%) of businesses say they do not consider menopause during performance reviews for female staff”. 

It would be advisable for employers and businesses to consider their own policies and practices. ACAS suggests that “If someone affected by the menopause is put at a disadvantage and treated less favourably because of something related to their disability, this could be 'discrimination arising from disability'.”

The most recent high profile example of this was in the case of Best v Embark on Raw Ltd. The East London Employment Tribunal, in a case brought by Leigh Best, held that remarks made by David Fletcher, the employer and company owner, were inappropriate and derogatory. In particular, remarks made by Mr Fletcher that suggested Ms Best “might be menopausal or be experiencing stereotypical menopausal symptoms” [per the judgment] were held by the employment tribunal to amount to harassment on the grounds of sex and age. Embark on Raw Ltd was ordered to pay £20,057.74 in compensation.

Posted on 7 April, 2022 by Ortolan

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