• Firms must help menopausal workers, or face being sued - BBC News

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    The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued the guidance to clarify the legal obligations to workers going through the menopause. nSymptoms can include hot flushes, brain fog and difficulty sleeping.

    The EHRC said bosses should offer changes such as providing rest areas or flexible hours to help.nRelaxing uniform policies to allow women to wear cooler clothes could also help. Menopause marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycle, and usually happens in her 40s or 50s. 

    Failing to make "reasonable adjustments" amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 if the symptoms have a "long-term and substantial impact" on a woman's ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities, the EHRC said.

    A video explaining the guidance says: "The costs of failing to make workplace adjustments for staff can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds when taking into account the loss of talent and costs of defending a claim."

    The EHRC cited research showing that one in 10 women surveyed who worked during their menopause were forced to leave their job due to the symptoms. 

    Two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 60 experienced menopausal symptoms at work, which largely had a negative impact. Very few asked for adjustments during this time because they were concerned about the potential reaction, it added. 

    The EHRC adds that taking disciplinary action against women for a menopause related-absence could amount to discrimination, and that language that ridicules someone's symptoms could constitute harassment. 

    EHRC chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner said the watchdog was "concerned both by how many women report being forced out of a role due to their menopause-related symptoms, and how many don't feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments".

    She added that employers "may not fully understand their responsibility to protect their staff going through the menopause", and that the new guidance had been issued to provide advice on how they can support their staff. 

    Women's health campaigner and author of Everything you need to know about the menopause (but were too afraid to ask) Kate Muir said the announcement was a "side alley" in the wider conversation around menopause.

    "It's not a disability," she told the BBC's Today programme. "It's something every woman goes through and legislation is not going to give you your missing hormones back."

    Ms Muir said the main focus should be promoting "menopause education" to inform women about "safer kinds of HRT which mean they don't need to have symptoms at all".

    She argued the NHS should give women a "proper consultation" when they go through menopause, as she said "good HRT" protects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. 

    "Those are the messages we should be getting out to women so they can work, be powerful and go through this stage and be happy," she added.

  • Judges reminded to be aware of menopause symptoms

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    Judges have been told to show sensitivity to witnesses and defendants who are experiencing menopausal symptoms and ensure courtrooms are ventilated and women have cold water and access to lavatories.

    A revised version of the Equal Treatment Bench Book, published by the Judicial College today, tells judges that despite increased publicity over the last couple of years, the menopause often remains a taboo subject in the workplace. According to the latest published statistics, only 32% of court judges are women.

    The guidance tells judges: 'The length and intensity of symptoms vary between women from very mild to very significant, so no assumptions should be made based solely on someone’s age.'

    Judges are told that physical and mental symptoms, including hot flushes, urinary problems, heavy periods, sleep disturbance, fatigue, headaches, lack of concentration, memory problems, palpitations, anxiety and mood swings, might affect court appearances. They are advised to consider making adjustments to hearings, including ensuring the courtroom has working air conditioning or open windows, cold water, easy access to toilet facilities and frequent breaks.

    The judges are also advised that: 'A woman experiencing debilitating menopausal symptoms may be too embarrassed to tell the court that she needs it to make adjustments for her,' and told to 'be alert to subtle indicators and suggest adjustments without drawing attention to the possible reason'.

    Welcoming the guidance, Lynne Townley, chair of the Association of Women Barristers, said it 'provides a no-nonsense overview of the symptoms and provides practical advice and guidance on the steps that can be taken to assist anyone affected'. 

    The Bench Book, which is designed to increase awareness and understanding of the different circumstances of people appearing in courts and tribunals, also includes new entries in the disability glossary, advice on conducting remote hearings and reminders on the need to reduce jargon and legalese.

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  • Vodafone announces new global employee commitment on menopause

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    62% of women who had menopause symptoms said this impacted them at work, new research by Opinium reveals – with two-thirds agreeing that more workplace support is needed

    08 Mar 2021| Press Release

    Vodafone is making a global commitment that will ensure its employees are supported during the menopause, it was announced today to coincide with International Women’s Day.  The new commitment will apply across all Vodafone markets1 and forms part of the company’s broader strategy of supporting all employees through every life stage to create a culture of inclusion.

    Vodafone today published new independent research conducted by Opinium, surveying 5,012 people in five countries aged 18+ who had experienced menopause while at work.  Opinium found that:

    • Nearly two-thirds of women (62%) who experienced menopause symptoms said that this impacted them at work, rising to four in five (79%) for 18-44-year olds.

    • A third (33%) of those who had symptoms said they hid this at work, and 50% felt there is a stigma around talking about the menopause.

    • 44% of women who experienced menopause symptoms said they have felt too embarrassed to ask for support in the workplace, rising to 66% of women aged 18-44.

    • Two-thirds (66%) of women agreed there should be more workplace support for women going through menopause.

    Vodafone estimates that menopause currently affects around 15% of Vodafone’s 100,000 employees.  To ensure that all Vodafone employees feel comfortable seeking support, Vodafone’s global commitment will introduce a balance of support and assistance, training and awareness. 

    This will include rolling out a training and awareness programme to all employees globally, including a toolkit focused on raising understanding of the menopause and providing guidance on how to support employees, colleagues and family members.  Existing policies in local markets will also provide support including the ability to take leave for sickness and medical treatment, flexible working and care through Vodafone’s Employee Assistance.

    Leanne Wood, Chief Human Resources Officer at Vodafone said: “Vodafone’s global commitment on menopause underscores our drive for a more inclusive culture and our desire for women to see Vodafone as the place to be for their career through all stages of their life.  With menopause impacting women for a significant period of their working life, it’s important to us that our environment supports and normalises these life stages by openly talking about and supporting menopause in the workplace.”

    Vodafone’s global programmes to increase diversity and inclusion

    Diversity and inclusion are integral to Vodafone’s purpose, reinforcing the company’s ambition to be a company whose global workforce reflects the customers we serve and the broader societies within which we operate.

    Vodafone’s goal for women to hold 40% of management and leadership roles by 2030 is already reflected at Board level, demonstrating Vodafone’s senior commitment towards this ambition. Globally, women currently hold over 31% of Vodafone’s management and leadership roles.

    To meet our ambition to be recognised as the world’s best employer for women by 2025, Vodafone has developed and introduced a series of pioneering global programmes.  These include progressive flexible working policies, maternity and parental leave that supports families to share caring responsibilities in the home, ReConnect to attract talented women back to the workplace and a Domestic Violence and Abuse policy.

    In March 2015, Vodafone pioneered a global maternity policy, offering women across Vodafone’s markets and operations a minimum of 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave and a 30-hour week at full pay for the first six months after their return to work.

    Vodafone launched the ReConnect programme in 2017 to attract talented women who have left the workplace for several years – often to raise a family – who want to return to work but are struggling to make the professional connections needed or refresh the skills required.

    In 2019, Vodafone supported families with a new global parental leave policy offering 16 weeks fully paid leave to all employees, giving every parent the opportunity to have more time with children new to their family.  Vodafone employees can phase their return from parental leave by working the equivalent of a 30-hour week at full pay for a further six months.  Vodafone’s parental leave will be available to all non-birthing parents – regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or length of service – by the end of March 2021.

    In 2019, Vodafone launched the first global domestic Violence and Abuse policy, setting out a comprehensive range of workplace supports, security and other measures for employees at risk of, experiencing, and recovering from, domestic violence and abuse.  Vodafone also made publicly available a toolkit on domestic violence and abuse at work, enabling line managers and colleagues to recognise, respond and support affected employees.

    Vodafone Foundation - Apps Against Abuse

    For more than ten years, Vodafone Foundation has used technology to connect more than a million people affected by domestic violence and abuse to advice, support and information.  They include:

    • Bright Sky - a free app which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.  Developed in the UK, the app is also available in Ireland, Czech Republic, Romania, Italy, Portugal, South Africa.

    • TecSOS - an initiative that seeks to support victims of domestic abuse and other vulnerable people through provision of a specially adapted piece of technology that enables enhanced access to the police in an emergency. The programme is currently providing vital protection to victims of domestic violence in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany and the UK.

    • Easy Rescue – in Turkey this Vodafone Foundation app has been downloaded over 325,000 times and continues to support women concerned for their personal safety. Features include a one-click call button to the emergency services, and a directory of information from Violence Prevention Centres.

    Vodacom Foundation also operates the Gender Based Violence Command Centre in South Africa, a free 24/7 support service, connecting people to professional social workers to provide counselling and, if the user is in imminent danger, use the geo-location feature and inform the police.


    Vodafone believes that the opportunities and promise of a better digital future should be accessible to all and is committed to ensuring that the more vulnerable are not left behind on the journey to that future.  Through our technology, we are working to bridge the divides that exist and help people to contribute equally and fully to society.

    By connecting an additional 50 million women in emerging markets to mobile by 2025 through specially designed products and services, Vodafone will help to improve health and wellbeing, create financial inclusion and increase safety and security, so women can reach their full potential.

    By supporting 10 million young people to access digital skills, learning and employment opportunities by 2022, Vodafone will help to upskill the next generation and support them to success in the digital economy.

    By improving the lives of 400 million people through our Foundation programmes by 2025 Vodafone aims to support the most vulnerable people in society, enabling free access to healthcare and educational resources and creating opportunities for them to improve both their lives and livelihoods.

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  • Channel 4 launches menopause policy for employees

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    Channel 4 is launching its first menopause policy in an effort to normalise the “taboo” subject.


    The policy will support employees experiencing menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, anxiety and fatigue, giving women access to flexible working arrangements and paid leave if they feel unwell because of the side-effects.

    The strategy, which Channel 4 says is the first known among UK media companies, will also offer staff a private, cool and quiet workspace, a workplace assessment to ensure their environment is not worsening their symptoms and a range of support and guidance resources.

    The broadcaster hopes to end stigma around the menopause by encouraging a better understanding of it among staff, including line managers, and facilitating a more open work environment for those transitioning through it.

    As part of the policy, Channel 4 will also introduce menopause awareness briefings to its leadership teams, and its HR team now has a dedicated menopause champion.

    The channel’s in-house gender equality staff network, 4Women , is responsible for the policy, and will continue to offer support along with the mental health employee network 4Mind.

    The Guardian view on the menopause at work: a healthy conversation

    The broadcaster announced its dedicated action on World Menopause Day.

    Alex Mahon, the Channel 4 chief executive, said: “This is Channel 4 living its remit, normalising a taboo subject by making it more visible, and we hope that 4Women’s fantastic work will inspire more in the industry to support women in their workplaces transitioning through the menopause.”

    Jane English, a co-chair of 4Women, said: “We wanted to open up the conversation at Channel 4 and in doing so prompt the media industry to also start talking more about how they can better support women transitioning through menopause.”

    According to research this year from the human resource company Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 59% of women in the workplace who experience menopausal symptoms say they have a negative impact on their work.

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