ACAS and Unison issue menopausal workers’ rights advice

On World Menopause Day (Friday 18 October), both Acas and the public service union Unison issued guidance for protecting the rights of workers who are experiencing the menopause.

25 Oct 2019| News

Symptoms including fatigue, migraines, concentration difficulties, anxiety and hot flushes affect around two million female workers over 50, and one in 20 women earlier in life.

These health issues can force staff to take more time off work sick, lose confidence in their abilities at work, and suffer from mental health issues.

New guidance published by Acas encourages employers to create and implement a policy for the sensitive management of the menopause, which should include cultivating an “open and trusted culture”, providing reasonable adjustments such as flexible working hours, and offering workers desk fans to help them maintain a comfortable working environment.

The advice also reminds employers that several existing employment laws provide some rights to menopausal workers, such as sex, disability and age discrimination protections.

Meanwhile, Unison also released menopause guidance for employers, which encouraged higher awareness of the issue among line managers, flexible procedures for sickness absence and the introduction of workplace menopause policies.

The Menopause is a Workplace Issue report was sent to Unison branches and reps on World Menopause Day and also included examples of good practice, including the introduction by Norfolk and Suffolk police of a “menopause passport”, which provided a way for workers to identify their personal constellation of symptoms and discuss these with their line manager.

Assistant General Secretary of the union, Christina McAnea, said: “For too long, talking about the menopause has been taboo, subject to jokes about hot flushes and whispers about competence.

“Yet menopause affects most women and some trans and non-binary people too. Symptoms can force women out of the workforce and contributes to the gender pay gap.

“That’s why it’s a priority because women are working longer following the raising of the state pension age. The menopause is most definitely a workplace issue and should be taken more seriously by employers.”