Wake Up Call: Why Ignoring Menopause Can Be Costly for Employers
6 Oct 2023
A recent Employment Tribunal reported in the press this week awarded £37,000 to an office manager who faced harassment and unfair dismissal after her employer shrugged off her menopause-related struggles with dismissive comments.
It is reported that Mrs. Anderson, a dedicated office manager at Thistle Marine (Peterhead), had been with the company for nearly three decades before experiencing issues related to menopause. She informed her employer of her menopausal symptoms, which included a loss of concentration, brain fog, and anxiety. While her employer did agree to pay for private healthcare to discuss her symptoms and put together a treatment plan, Anderson was subjected to sarcastic and flippant comments relating to her symptoms by her line manager, company director Jim Clark.
Anderson was told to “just get on with it” as “everyone f****** gets it”, and having tried to explain her symptoms was told "Menopause, menopause a'biddy f****** gets it, just get on wi' it, that’s your excuse for everything." These comment were not only deeply insensitive but also legally deemed as statutory harassment. This led to Mrs. Anderson resigning from her position, and the tribunal ruled in her favour, awarding her £37,000 in compensation, covering harassment and unfair dismissal claims.
Why Employers Must Wake Up to These Challenges:
Legal & Reputational Implications: Mrs. Anderson's case highlights the legal ramifications of neglecting menopausal workers. Employers who fail to support menopausal employees can face harassment and discrimination claims, which can be costly in both financial and reputational terms.
Impact on Employee Well-being: The menopause is a challenging phase in a person's life, and unsupported menopausal workers can suffer from increased stress and a higher risk of developing mental health conditions. This not only affects their job performance but also their overall quality of life.
Loss of Talent: Experienced and dedicated employees are valuable assets to any organisation. Losing such talent due to a lack of support is not only detrimental to the individual but also to the company.
Positive Workplace Culture: Employers who actively support their menopausal workers demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and diversity. It fosters a positive workplace culture where all employees feel valued and respected.
In light of the growing awareness of the menopause's impact on the workplace, it is crucial for organisations to take proactive steps to support their menopausal employees:
Education: Educate managers and employees about the menopause, its symptoms, and its potential impact on work performance and well-being.
Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible working arrangements wherever possible, such as remote work or adjusted hours, to accommodate the needs of menopausal workers.
Open Communication: Encourage open and empathetic communication between employees and management. Create a safe space for employees to discuss their challenges and seek solutions.
Menopause-friendly Policies: Develop policies that address the specific needs of menopausal workers, including access to healthcare and reasonable adjustments.
Employers that haven’t already taken action to support & accommodate employees who are experiencing this stage of their working life should seriously consider addressing this blind spot sooner rather than later; not only for legal compliance but also for the overall well-being of their workforce and success of their organisations.