` REBA Inside Track: Employers shouldn’t wait for legislation to introduce workplace menopause support | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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03 Feb 2022
by Elizabeth Howlett

REBA Inside Track: Employers shouldn’t wait for legislation to introduce workplace menopause support

Workplace menopause support has been hitting headlines more frequently, and it would seem to the casual observer that the taboo surrounding this subject is finally over.

However, while the conversations are happening, more evidence to suggest there is little to no support for menopausal people in the workplace has recently come to the surface.

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Companies such as Marks and Spencer, ASOS and Citigroup all made pledges to change their policies to support menopausal employees last year, and many others followed suit. However, The Independent recently reported that more one million UK women could quit their jobs because of a lack of menopause support

Indeed, a poll conducted by Research Without Barriers suggests that workplace menopause policies are actually few and far between, as nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) said their place of work has not introduced any kind of policy to make things easier for anyone experiencing menopause symptoms.

But employers don’t need to introduce a policy – or wait for the outcome of the recent session in the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee on refreshing current legislation – to offer support. Savvy employers can prioritise supporting menopausal employees throughout every facet of the organisation, and employee wellbeing benefits can temporarily bridge the legislation support gap, while underpinning any upcoming policy changes. 

Since the pandemic flexible working has become more prevalent, but organisations that do not yet offer employees the option to flex their hours should consider it for menopausal employees. One of the main symptoms, according to Medical News Today research is fatigue, which impacted 73% of respondents. Additionally, the option to work from home can also assist those who are impacted by night sweats and insomnia, or allowing employees to take unpaid/paid leave can help those experiencing symptoms to manage them more effectively.

Benefits centred around mental health and wellbeing can also be a crucial lifeline, as mood swings and low mood can be a common symptom. Whether this is access to an employee assistance programme, virtual GP or assistance through digital health and wellbeing services, those undergoing the perimenopause, or the menopause, may need additional support with their mental wellbeing. 

Employers should also consider trans employees who are experiencing the menopause as anyone with female reproductive organs, who identifies as a man and has had no medical intervention, is likely to undergo the menopause eventually. Therefore, any benefits that are provided should be screened for inclusive language and messaging, alongside signposting charities that can direct employees to NHS services that are also Diversity Champions. 

Perimenopause and menopausal symptoms can be debilitating and long-lasting, which is why employment law lawyers told MPs at the recent House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, that it should be a protected characteristic. 

With the array of options open to employers to support those experiencing menopause, organisations should focus on aligning their benefits to offer support, rather than waiting for legislation to come into effect. 

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