The experts say that firms do not just are at risk of losing employees, but they could also be sued when they do not implement formal procedures
The study has found that most businesses don’t have a plan to help employees who are experiencing menopausal symptoms.
A YouGov survey of 1,025 HR specialists conducted by Irwin Mitchell found that more than three-quarters (72 percent) of employers did not have a menopausal policy.
The survey also revealed that 77 percent of businesses did not provide line managers with training on menopausal symptoms, compared to just 16 percent of the companies that did. (Another 7 percent of respondents did not know.)
Of the companies that did not educate line managers on dealing with menopausal symptoms and menopausal issues, 44 percent of respondents claimed they hadn’t thought about the matter; 15 percent claimed they did not consider it a point of importance; 7 percent said that sensitivity and embarrassment over the subject were keeping them from taking action.
The study also showed that just 18 percent of HR professionals claimed their employers provided their employees with information about the menopausal cycle. Then, 13 percent of companies offer private support groups for employees.
About two-thirds (64 percent) of those polled said they had not considered menopausal symptoms in performance reviews for female employees. Half (50 percent) reported that they felt sure that the women of their organization could talk about menopausal issues.
In a statement on the findings, Claire McCartney, senior policy adviser for resourcing and participation at CIPD, stated that there is still a long way to improve support for women who are menopausal.
“Employers must focus on creating open and inclusive cultures where everyone feels able to talk about any issues affecting them,” she suggested, suggesting that businesses might go beyond adopting policies that support promoting open discussions.
“Ensuring line managers are knowledgeable about the menopause and trained in good people management can be key to someone getting the right support,” she said, explaining the possibility of flexible working and bespoke changes to work.
Angela Watson, age project manager at Business in the Community, added that businesses should also adopt flexible working hours and be prepared for the absences caused by menopausal illness and warned that employers who do not have the right tools to support women who are menopausal could lose their jobs.
“As many offices return to a hybrid working model, some older workers are reconsidering whether it’s worth returning at all,” she said. “If we want women to continue in the workplace and build secure financial futures for themselves in retirement, employers need to provide appropriate support.”
This sentiment was shared by Deborah Garlick, director of Henpicked, who stated the study results in terms of “shocking.” When comparing the employers who took action regarding menopausal issues and those that weren’t, she said: “I know where I’d sooner work and employers can’t afford to lose talent from their businesses.”
She said, “every employer needs to take action quickly or be left behind.”
Businesses aren’t just at risk of losing their employees, according to Jenny Arrowsmith, an employment law partner at Irwin Mitchell, who said that in the past two or three years, there had been an increase in tribunals for employment where menopausal symptoms were discussed.
“We expect to see complaints increase further,” she said, pointing out that this could happen if further legal protections are provided to women who suffer from significant symptoms of menopausal – something that the Women and Equalities Committee has previously considered during its investigation into menopausal issues and work.
To reduce the possibility of “costly disputes,” Arrowsmith suggested that a menopausal policy can help companies approach discussions and provide information about the support available and give employers the framework to demonstrate their actions if faced with a challenge by an arbitration.