Employment Law Update October 2023
This month’s employment law update will cover how best to approach menopause in the workplace, and the key updates and changes in employment law that we expect to see in 2024.
HR Hot Topic - Menopause
Menopause has gained increased attention in HR discussions due to its significant impact on a substantial proportion of the workforce. The CIPD recently surveyed 2000 working women aged 20 to 60 and found that 73% of them had experienced symptoms related to menopause transition, and 53% have been unable to go into work at some point due to those symptoms. On top of this around one in six (17%) have considered leaving work due to a lack of support in relation to their menopause symptoms, and a further 6% have left work. You may also have seen in the news that recently a female office manager won £37,000 in an employment tribunal after her employer dismissed her menopause symptoms. So, you might be thinking ‘what can we do to help those employees struggling with menopausal symptoms?’
Create an open and honest culture, possibly through a menopause policy. People experiencing menopausal symptoms should receive the same support and understanding from their employer as those with any other long-term health condition. Encouraging conversations in the workplace removes some of the taboo associated with the menopause, and lets people know they will be listened to if they come forward. It is important to note, however, that no one should feel forced to talk about the menopause and in some cultures, it is considered inappropriate to do so. It is about letting employees know that they can talk about it if they want to, and making it clear what support is available to them. A policy can communicate this message clearly and outline the organisation’s stance.
Carry out risk assessments and make reasonable adjustments if necessary – Employers have a legal duty to assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees, this includes making adjustments for women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms and ensuring symptoms aren’t being exacerbated by their job.
Work with occupational health – If you have access to occupational health services, work with them to establish appropriate adjustments for an employee experiencing menopausal symptoms.
If you want to read more about menopause and how to approach it in the workplace, further resources are available below.
Employment Law - Changes We Can Expect In 2024
Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023
This act will give millions of UK workers more flexibility over when and where they work. Specifically, workers will benefit from:
New requirements for employers to consult with the employee before rejecting their flexible working request.
Permission to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one request).
Reduced waiting times for decisions to be made (within which an employer administers the statutory request) from three months to two months.
The removal of existing requirements that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with.
Alongside this act, the government announced that workers will have the right to request flexible working from their first day of a new job. We will keep you updated on this and will be available at to update your flexible working policies closer to the time. Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 As discussed last month when the act received royal assent, this will give all workers on atypical contracts the legal right to request a predictable working pattern. The government’s aim is to address the power imbalance between some employers and workers on atypical contracts. The workers who will be able to make requests will be those with irregular working hours and times, such as zero hours employees, or those who are on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less. In some cases, agency workers may also be allowed to make requests directly to the organisation they are working for. Workers will be able to make two statutory applications in the space of 12 months and will be able to do so after a minimum service period. In anticipation of this act coming into force, ACAS will be producing a new statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable work pattern, which we will inform you of once it becomes available. Carer’s Leave Act 2023 This act will introduce a statutory entitlement to 1 week of unpaid leave per year, for employees that are providing or arranging care for a dependant with a long-term care need. The government have said “By making it easier for people to support their loved ones, employers are likely to benefit from less staff turnover and a reduction in recruitment and training costs by retaining employees who previously would have been unable to balance their caring responsibilities and working life.” Closer to the time employers will need to update policies and handbooks to reflect this new entitlement, and we are here to help you do this when that time comes. We will keep you in the loop about everything we have discussed in this month’s employment law update, and encourage you to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
NHS - Menopause Symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/ Recent Menopause Employment Tribunal Case: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-66962519 CIPD’s Menopause at Work Guide: https://www.cipd.org/uk/topics/menopause/ CIPD’s Menopause in the Workplace Report: https://www.cipd.org/uk/knowledge/reports/menopause-workplace-experiences/
If you have any HR queries please give a member of the team a call today, on 01926 853388, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.