Following ‘menopause awareness month’ in October, employers everywhere are being urged to do more to assist women experiencing the menopause.
The call comes after recent reports in the press of women being disciplined for taking too much time off work due to the symptoms of the menopause. Instead of making life difficult for women, employers should be making workplaces menopause-friendly and raising awareness throughout businesses that provisions need to be made to accommodate those experiencing symptoms .
There are more women in the workplace now than ever before with the largest increase being among women aged 50 and over. Despite this, the menopause continues to be something that is not well understood, or indeed supported, within the workplace. There needs to be a complete cultural and social shift so as to ensure that female staff experiencing menopausal symptoms are supported at this difficult time of their lives.
Often seen as a “taboo” subject by many employers, menopause symptoms are often overlooked or simply not recognised by managers. Those symptoms can include hot flushes, headaches, inability to concentrate, depression, fatigue and sleep deprivation resulting quite often in reduced productivity and increased absenteeism. Many women report having to “cope on their own” with symptoms with many reluctant to speak up at work because they find this embarrassing or because they feel that male colleagues will judge them.
So what should law firms be doing in order to better provide for their female staff? In its latest Factsheet “Implementing a Menopause Policy”, Infolegal has suggested that firms should:
- increase flexibility over start and finish times to help the person better manage their symptoms,
- increase openness to flexible working requests for so long as symptoms persist,
- give the right to take breaks when reasonably required,
- provide somewhere private where the staff member can rest and manage their symptoms,
- allow working from home where possible,
- be more flexible in relation to time off on days when symptoms are particularly difficult to deal with,
- provide alternative duties if a role is proving difficult whilst symptoms persist, and
- allow the person to work in a more conducive environment – for example near to a window that opens or with the assistance of air-conditioning or a desk fan.
In addition, firms should ensure that training is provided, especially to managers, in order to ensure that a greater understanding is gained.
Infolegal InfoHub subscribers have access to the complete factsheet as well asa draft policy for use within the firm.