GPs want reassurance on how to support staff with menopause, says MDU’s HR partner

A recent legal judgement in which an employee was awarded £65,000 compensation after an employer failed to make reasonable adjustments when her role was affected by menopause symptoms, illustrates the importance for GP practices of having a menopause policy in place for staff.

The warning comes from the Medical Defence Union (MDU) HR partner Peninsula, which provides employment law and health and safety advice to MDU GROUPCARE practices and corporate members.

Vicky Kitney from Peninsula said it was seeing an increase in enquiries from GPs and practice managers about accommodating staff with menopause symptoms.

Ms Kitney said: “From 1st June 2023 to 31st August 2023, Peninsula received over 460 calls and emails from MDU members requesting advice on a range of HR matters.

“With the growing awareness of the need to support women with menopausal symptoms, we are seeing a steady stream of enquiries from GP practices about this issue. These account for a small but significant number of cases and the trend is increasing.

“Typical scenarios include practices who want to accommodate staff experiencing symptoms like hot flushes, as well as enquiries about supporting those who may be struggling with performance issues like forgetfulness.

“The recent legal judgement  is a reminder for all employers to ensure they make adjustments and support employees with menopause symptoms.

“Fostering an open, inclusive environment where employees feel they can raise concerns about how the menopause is affecting them with no stigma or embarrassment, will help practices in becoming menopause friendly employers.”

Dr Caroline Fryar, MDU director of medical services said:

“It’s encouraging to know that GP practices are seeking out expert advice on this issue. Practices are doing their utmost to deliver quality patient care in the most difficult and pressured of circumstances and will be only too aware of the need to support and retain team members.

“Research has shown that 10% of women leave their jobs and many more are reducing their hours or passing up promotions because of their menopausal symptoms. Ensuring colleagues feel supported is an important part of addressing this concern. It should also help in meeting the overall commitments set out in NHS England’s Long Term Workforce Plan, which emphasises the need to retain valued employees by encouraging them to stay in the workplace.”

The MDU website has further advice for practices on how to support staff with menopause symptoms.

MDU GROUPCARE practices and corporate members get access to free 24-hour employment law advice line from Peninsula, a leading provider of employment law and health and safety services in the UK.