International Employment Lawyer
NHS England employees going through the menopause will be offered flexibility in their working schedules, the nation's health service has announced and called on other employers to follow suit so women can “thrive” at work.
GQ|Littler senior associate Alison Sneddon says the NHS, unlike many other employers, is in the unique position of having “a deep-rooted understanding of the medical impact of the menopause and its related symptoms”.
“Their guidance can serve as a useful review point for other employers seeking to develop their understanding of the menopause, particularly on the impact for trans, non-binary, and intersex employees which is not always obvious,” she tells IEL.
In many ways, the guidance is similar to the approach taken by other employers as it sensibly looks to create an open culture around discussions of the menopause and gives managers guidance on how to support employees with wellbeing conversations and access to other resources, she adds.
However, the NHS guidance goes further than that of other employers by requiring menopause-related absences be recorded, allowing such data to be monitored so the organisation can understand the depth of issues and where additional support is needed, observes Sneddon.
“However, its effectiveness is dependent on how open the culture around the menopause is and whether employees are willing to declare that this is the reason for the absence – or concerned that this may, somehow, be used against them,” she adds.
The NHS also provides a wellbeing action plan tool to support its employees. Sneddon says that, as with all menopause support policies, “they are only really worth the paper that they are written on unless the organisation invests the time in fostering a culture of inclusion.”
She continues: “The NHS guidance will be useful to employers who want to learn more about the menopause and perhaps make the wellbeing action plan tool available to employees within their own organisation.”
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