Pause to think about menopause

    Pause to think about menopause

    Did you hear about the rather sticky situation that recently unfolded at Avanti West Coast, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many? You may have read about it – a gift bag designed for menopausal women including: a fan (“handy for the hot sweats”), a jelly baby (“in case you feel like biting someone’s head off”) and a paper clip (“to help you keep it together”). Understandably, many found this more cringe-worthy than comforting!

    While the intention behind such a gesture may have been sweet, it’s essential to remember that menopause isn’t a joke. You can’t sugar coat the issue with a handful of jelly babies and expect everything to be peachy. Instead of offering gimmicky solutions (which has the potential to amount to harassment in itself), you need to focus on substantive support, developing workplace policies and procedures that truly value and uplift women. No amount of jelly babies can replace the need for genuine understanding and assistance!
    With the recent publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance, it’s more crucial than ever for employers to understand their legal obligations. Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees experiencing a disability; menopause symptoms which have a long term and substantial impact on an employee’s ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities often meet the threshold to be considered a disability. These adjustments could range from flexible working arrangements, to providing access to appropriate facilities, to support networks.
    In essence, it's about creating an environment where menopausal employees feel comfortable and supported. One key tool in achieving this is by implementing a dedicated company policy on menopause. Having a clear and comprehensive policy sends a strong message that your organisation values the well-being of all employees, regardless of age or gender. This policy can outline the support mechanisms available, educate staff on menopause-related issues, and provide guidance for managers on how to handle related conversations and requests for adjustments.
    So, let's remember to approach the topic of menopause support with the seriousness it deserves, while also sprinkling in a bit of empathy and understanding. And if you ever find yourself tempted to reach for the jelly babies as a quick fix, remember that true support requires more substance than sugary treats.
    As always, if you need guidance on navigating the legal landscape of menopause, support in the workplace or developing a robust company policy, don't hesitate to reach out. Together, we can ensure that your workplace is a place where every employee feels valued and supported, regardless of the stage of life they're in.


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