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Practice managers raising concerns on how to support staff with menopause, says MDU

by Julie Griffiths
9 October 2023

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The need for GP practices to have a menopause policy in place for staff has been highlighted following a recent legal case that saw a former employee experiencing symptoms awarded almost £65,000 compensation.

Although the case involved the company Direct Line rather than a GP surgery, it serves as a reminder for all employers to ensure they make adjustments and support employees with menopause symptoms, according to the Medical Defence Union’s HR partner Peninsula.

The claimant Maxine Lynskey was awarded the payment because her employer failed to make reasonable adjustments when her role was affected by menopause-related complaints including, anxiety, mood swings, effects on her memory and poor concentration.

Peninsula, which provides employment law and health and safety advice, said it has been seeing an increase in enquiries from practice managers and GPs on about accommodating staff with menopause symptoms.

Vicky Kitney from Peninsula said it received over 460 calls and emails from 1 June 2023 to 31 August 2023 from MDU members.

‘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,’ Ms Kitney warned.  

She added: ‘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.’

Ms Kitney said 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.

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

‘Dr Caroline Fryar, MDU director of medical services said it was encouraging that GP practices were seeking out expert advice on the issue.

‘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,’ said Dr Fryar.

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