Menopause at Work with the HR Suite

Posted in : Webinar Recordings on 1 March 2022
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered: Menopause Awareness, Policy on Menopause

In this webinar, Caroline Reidy, Managing Director of the HR Suite outlines the importance of having an awareness of the impact that menopause can have on females, and creating a culture of support and understanding on the subject of menopause. Caroline also discusses key areas to include when drafting a menopause policy. 

The Recording:

Sponsored by:

MCS Webinars and Podcasts Sponsor 2022

 

Additional menopause resources, including links to sample policies, can be found in the following link:
https://www.legal-island.ie/globalassets/pdf-documents/menopause-resources-ireland.pdf

Transcript 

Rolanda: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our webinar with myself, Rolanda Markey from Legal-Island, and Caroline Reidy, Managing Director of The HR Suite. 

Caroline, for anyone who is new to us, is a past member of the Low Pay Commission and she's also an adjudicator in the Workplace Relations Commission. She has completed a Master's in Human Resources through the University of Limerick. She is CIPD-accredited as well as being a trained mediator. 

Caroline has worked across various areas of human resources for over 20 years, including in the Kerry Group and then the retail and hospitality sectors where she was the operations and HR director of the Garvey Group prior to setting up The HR Suite in 2009. 

She speaks widely and writes articles and papers on thought leadership in relation to the future landscape of HR, and the challenges and opportunities that that presents for employers and employees. 

Caroline is also a regular speaker at the Legal-Island Annual Review of Employment Law in November each year. And last year, she spoke on the topic of bullying versus proactive management. 

So in this month's webinar, Caroline is going to discuss the impact of menopause in the workplace. And it's about the importance of everyone having an awareness of the impact that menopause can have, and also what you should think about in terms of including it in your policy. 

A lot of organisations may not have a menopause policy yet, but it's a good idea to get one, particularly if you look at the profile of your organisation. 

If you have any questions for Caroline, please pop them into the question box and we'll look at those after Caroline has had a chance to talk about some of the areas that she wants to focus on. 

Just before I hand over to Caroline, I just want to draw your attention to a service that Legal-Island can provide. And one of the eLearning courses we have is on menopause. The point of this course is about helping to raise awareness amongst all employees about what menopause is, how it can affect people, and top tips for managing it. 

Obviously, it's very important for line managers in particular to have an understanding of what menopause is so that they can be mindful of the impact of it on their particular employees. 

So if you have any questions for Caroline, pop them into the question box and we'll deal with those afterwards. 

If you're interested in the eLearning programme, it's remiss of me not to say that there's a 50% offer for attendees today. So if you are interested in that and want to find out more, have a look on the follow-up email that will come today. Also, if you want somebody to get in touch with you, if you want to pop "yes" into the question box, somebody from the eLearning team will get in touch with you. 

So, Caroline, thank you for talking about this very important topic for all of us women. It's over to you. 

Caroline: Super. Good morning, everybody. I'm delighted to have so many attendees in this morning's session. I think it emphasises how proactive we all are at acknowledging that any support we put in place for any of our workplace colleagues is positive for absolutely everybody within the organisation. And more and more menopause has come up as an area that clients are looking for support in, hence why we're focussing on it today. 

So I suppose I'm going to maybe take you through maybe an overview of some of the interesting statistics, some of the areas that have come up for us personally dealing with clients, and also then maybe to consider drafting a policy, what would you think would be helpful in terms of assisting you in that regard. I'll give you my thoughts on that. 

 

Menopause Statistics 

I suppose menopause being a natural transition in life will affect many women in the workplace, as we know, but it's to ensure that we have a culture of support and ensure that we avoid any issues around the stigma or somebody feeling that they're isolated, or it's something that they can't talk about, or it's something that could impact their performance, their motivation, or anything else. So it's all about maximising the potential of all of the employees, but it's also about creating a culture of support. And that's really the focus of my session today. 

The interesting statistics show that we've a huge percentage of the workforce that are in that menopausal cohort in Ireland. The CSO stats from 2018, which is the last ones we have, show that there are about 350,000 people who are menopausal in the work environment at any stage. 

And for many, they don't even realise that when the first symptoms occur . . . and obviously they can range in severity from different people, but they may not recognise that the underlying cause of those symptoms could be menopause. 

So it's about raising awareness, recognising, and supporting and encouraging women who are going through the menopause. 

Many of the statistics that are in place, for example, from the CIPD would suggest that 3 in 5 people within the range age of 45 to 55 who are experiencing the menopause would say that it's had a negative impact on them at work. Three out of 5, or 60%, is a very high percentage of people who say that they feel it has a negative impact at work. So without doubt, it's an area that we should be spotlighting and supporting positively as a result. 

Nearly two-thirds said they were less able to concentrate. More than half said they were experiencing more stress as a result. And more than half said that they were less patient with clients and colleagues. 

Nearly a third of the people surveyed, and it was quite a significant amount of people surveyed, said that they had to take sick leave because of their symptoms, but only about a quarter of them felt able to tell their manager the real reason for their absence. 

Privacy was the main reason that people chose not to disclose it. Others, a third of them, said that it was embarrassment. And another third said an unsupportive management structure was the reason that they didn't want to say. 

So that really concerns us, as HR practitioners, when we want to really support our cohort of workers. As a result, that awareness and education for all staff about the menopause is a hugely brilliant starting point. And with awareness and a policy to complement that, I think it's going to add huge positives in relation to getting this area to be really positive. 

A huge amount of women who go through the menopause, 76% in a recent survey said they had brain fog, 66% said they had anxiety, over 60% a lack of confidence, and others saying things like hot flushes, insomnia, aches and pains, etc.  

The key elements of what we want to do are to start with a kind of awareness and education campaign for all staff. It's really important that we don't make any assumptions and we don't shy away from talking about it as a result. 

I suppose we're also really respectful, as with any medical-related matter. The importance of ensuring confidentiality, not alone from a GDPR obligation perspective, but from a respect perspective as well. 

Many organisations have now employee assistance programmes in place, and again, encouraging employees to avail of that employee assistance programme to help them in relation to any support they have. 

Also, I suppose that inclusive culture and reducing any of the issues in relation to retention, motivation, loyalty, etc. 

 

Menopause Measures 

So let's talk about what are the measures now we need to put in place, because I think we're all convinced, and the fact you've attended today's webinar, you obviously are in agreement that this is an area that we need to focus on. Maybe you are already, and hopefully today you might get some little nuggets of additional elements. 

So for me, the first starting point is to raise awareness and having a culture where people feel that they can discuss the impact of menopause in their working lives in an open way with their manager, with their colleagues, and feel also from a confidentiality point of view that will be respected. 

So one of the key starting points is to develop a policy in relation to this area. And I want to later in the webinar talk you through what maybe the policy should include. 

I suppose it's also important that we consider what workplace improvements to work practices that we can put in place. And simple reasonable adjustments could be made in relation to somebody might need an additional fan. They might want to sit closer to the window. They might want access to a restroom. The uniform might not be suitable for them and they might want a different type of uniform, for example. They may need time and flexibility in relation to medical appointments. 

So, again, making sure that we're very proactive about this being something that we want to support people as much as we can, I think, will do an awful lot of positives in relation to that. 

Obviously, it's really important also that we appreciate the fact that a huge percentage of people may hide the symptoms and, as a result, could be having a negative impact on their performance at work. 

And many organisations, like Vodafone, Channel 4 UK, have introduced menopause policies. It's something that we're encouraging people to do to facilitate that. 

Again, you'll all remember the Joe Duffy radio Liveline that got huge, huge . . . I think he started out doing an initial programme for one session and it ended up being more than a week in relation to those menopause stories. So we appreciate that this is something that is a big issue. 

 

Potential Risks 

So, if we talk a little bit then in relation to what are the potential risks associated with not proactively managing menopause, again, there is some case law from the UK and also some case law in relation to the importance of making sure that we treat menopause the same as we would with any other medical condition. 

At the end of the day, it's a gender-specific condition, and making sure that if somebody comes to us and they have issues, whether it's to do with performance, or they come and they directly tell us it's menopausal symptoms, we need to provide reasonable accommodation as we would if the person had any other medical condition that we need to support them with. 

And in the link attached to today's webinar, you can read some of the case law, which will back that up. 

It's also important to note that for some people, the menopause symptoms can be sufficiently long-term and really negatively impact the person so much so that we need to consider it as a disability. Again, there's some case law in relation to the Scottish courts and tribunals, again, which is attached in the link today that you can have a look at. 

And you've seen a lot of case law recently in relation to employees being discriminated or harassed and, again, case law to show that if we do negatively impact somebody because they have an issue that is health-related to do with their gender, or indeed we discriminate them in any way, the employee will be successful in their claim. 

So these are all the watch-outs and the risks that we need to be aware of, combined with the fact that we know that this makes sense to do it from a practical point of view, not just from the perspective of the legal risk and the backdrop that we're considering. 

So let's also think about the fact that we've got an ageing workforce, people are working on leisure, and a lot more people are working through menopausal symptoms as a result of that age-diverse workforce. And menopause, as I say, statistics tell us anything from 45 up to 55. And for some, the health conditions continue later. 

So the starting point, I would say, is if there are performance issues and you may feel it could be brain fog, as it's commonly known, or other related issues to menopause, you should treat it as a collaborative conversation initially to say, "Could there be any underlying health conditions that could be impacting your performance?" without causing anxiety or upset to the person. 

Also, consider the use of a company doctor the same as you would for any other underlying health conditions. For some, this could be a very private and a very sensitive issue, and perimenopause particularly where somebody may not even realise that they are going into that menopausal phase. 

So again, the sensitivity of handling those conversations, we can't underestimate. Again, making sure managers are aware of that privacy, that sensitivity, etc., and helping the rest of our colleagues, both managers and employees, to recognise that this is something that can affect staff and work colleagues and it's something that, as a company, we really want to advocate and support. 

 

What to Include in a Policy

So I'm going to take you through what to consider in the policy. And I would recommend that for everybody, the starting point from today's webinar, if you haven't one already, is to consider the policy. And in conjunction with the rollout of the policy, to do a communication and a training exercise in relation to the policy would be the next step after that. 

So the policy, I suppose, its aim is to try and understand the menopause and the related issues in relation to how it may impact employees and work colleagues. And we appreciate that it's not going to necessarily impact everybody in the same way. It's really important that we are very focussed on the individuality of the whole menopause and it being part of the natural life cycle. 

Ultimately, we want to reduce menopause-related sickness and promote retention and support of employees during this time. We also want an environment where people can openly and comfortably have conversations and engage in discussions. 

So again, I'm very mindful of the statistics that I outlined at the start of today's session where many people were embarrassed or felt they were unsupported, felt that they couldn't openly say that the illness was linked to menopause and the symptoms were linked to menopause. 

We're always very conscious when we talk about anything to do with equality or anything to do with medical terms in relation to using the correct words. And for some people, even using the word "illness" could be something that they take offence to. But again, we're trying to be inclusive and supportive and very conscious that you're coming from a place of positive intent and positive support. 

My best advice always, when you're drafting these types of policies, is to try and get a small working group. If you drafted 90%, try and get a small working group of mixed gender, representative diverse people within the organisation of all ages and diversity to sense-check it. We do find it's one of the ones that particularly raises sensitivity in relation to the language that has been used. I suppose, as part of the policy, we're raising awareness and we're also providing support in relation to how we can assist. 

And normalising it, I suppose, is really one of the big aims of this, the same as we would any other elements of our cultural inclusivity charter. Again, we're treating people with dignity and respect in line with fairness and well-being and health and safety in the work environment. 

And there's also a need in your policy to put self-management back to the employees themselves, because we really do need them to initiate some of that initial communication. Sometimes we find that the issue occurs because it's performance-related or its absence-related, and it's only by getting underneath the iceberg and really trying to support and assist the person that we really get to the issue. 

Whereas the idea of this policy and this awareness process is very much trying to facilitate the employee to self-manage in a positive, supportive culture the fact that they're coming forward to say, "Look, this is where I'm at and this is the support I really feel would make a big difference to me if the organisation can assist". So I think that's just important to emphasise that. 

I think the other key elements are to flag the fact that the responsibility of everybody throughout the organisation is to support the person, because it needs to be a case that that open and inclusive culture is there and that awareness is there. 

And remember, under Equality legislation and Health and Safety legislation, that vicarious liability, which we always rely on to say, "We've done all we can to show we supported". By having a policy and by doing that on-going communication and support, it brings to life that vicarious liability to show we've minimised any risk of the person feeling isolated, unsupported, or indeed discriminated because they're going through the menopause. 

So occupational health is important to show that we're very much supportive, and many holistic, nonmedical treatments may be an option for individuals who are suffering perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms. But again, it's encouraging early intervention and encouraging up-to-date research and signposting the person to the appropriate support and advice. 

And we don't need to be offering advice and guidance in relation to what we think is best. But what we do need to do is signpost the person to the appropriate resources, whether that's employee assistance or whether that's Occupational Health or the company doctor or working collaboratively with the person to give them that support. So I would say remember your role of signposting as a manager, which is key to this whole area. 

I suppose this policy of menopause should be complementary to your health and well-being strategy, to your absence policies and procedures, and also to your leave policy. For many now, we're extending supports in relation to, for example, those that are going to do fertility treatment, those that are requiring additional supports in relation to menopause, etc., so that we're showing that we're going to be very inclusive and supportive with people on life's journey. 

So again, this is no different, and it's part of the overall well-being strategy for companies that they're looking at, at the moment. 

So in relation to guidance for managers, I would say you can do a frequently asked questions. There's loads of support and resources. As I say, we have a hand-out attached to today's webinar. We can assist companies in terms of drafting their policy. We can do supports in relation to how we can assist etc. But the key element of what we're trying to achieve is that we're providing that supportive culture. 

Areas to consider, then, are the physical adjustments that might be required. Again, a risk assessment may be necessary depending on the severity of the person's requirements and symptoms. But physical adjustments might be temperature, it might be access to cold drinking water, it might be the uniform, etc. So again, we really need to work with the person to see what it is that we can do to provide support in that regard. 

It may also be psychological supports. For many, anxiety is one of the key symptoms that has come up, and that concept of brain fog that we've mentioned already. 

It's also really important to consider somebody's work pattern and routine, because sleep has, for many, been a key issue and maybe they need different working hours to facilitate a period of time. But again, looking at support in relation to that. 

I suppose there's huge amount of support available, and it's something that's getting better and better all the time. But signposting them to those supports and helping them make the best decisions is what the policy is designed to do. 

A huge emphasis around confidentiality and GDPR is required in your policy so that there's no doubt in anybody's mind of the respect of maintaining that staff member's confidentiality and the sensitivity of how we will respond and respect anything that they share with us. Hugely important 

And again, I suppose as part of this awareness campaign, many are finding that it's encouraging people to get early intervention where many would, as I say, not have even realised that they were at that perimenopausal stage, which I think is really, really positive. 

So that's, hopefully, a very good overview in relation to your strategic approach to this area, which I think will add huge value, and also to what you should consider in terms of your approach to developing a policy and also what you should consider including in that policy. 

For me, once the policy is drafted, then from there it's making sure that you roll that campaign out to raise awareness with management and staff right throughout the organisation so that it brings it to life. That supportive culture is very, very obvious where people feel that they know straightaway that that is going to be respected and is going to be very inclusive. 

So hopefully, that was a good overview. I know Rolanda has lots of questions, so I'm going to pass over to Rolanda and we're going to run through some of your questions and we'll go from there. 

Rolanda: Thanks very much, Caroline. That's been very helpful. A few questions in, and one thing occurred to me when you were talking about the policy.  

 

Would you have anything in it about transgender employees? There was a question in about when you talk about people experiencing the menopause, should you include some reference to transgender employees? 

Caroline: Yeah, I think that's a very good point, Rolanda. I think, obviously, we're focussing very much now on inclusivity and diversity in every element. And I think the more inclusive we are, the better. Hence why I always think that a policy like this should be done as part of a working group. 

There's no problem in drafting an initial draft that can be led by HR or somebody like us providing a template, but I always think it's really important that it's done as part of a working group, because only then are you going to consider all of those considerations. 

But I would absolutely think that's a really, really good point and I would 100% in any template include that. 

Rolanda: Yeah, it's a good point.  

What about banter? There's probably a bit of a fine line with banter around menopause in the workplace. Would you reference to that?  

 

Managers maybe need to be aware of . . . And this is a difficulty, because women may joke among themselves, "I'm feeling a bit menopausal today". But if other people joke about that, it might be viewed as harassment. So would that go in a policy? 

Caroline: I think what's important, and I flagged it at the very early stages, is people are quite sensitive about the language that's been used. And even when sometimes the word "illness" is linked to menopause, people get very defensive and say, "It's not an illness. It's part of life, and it's a natural transition", which it absolutely is. But for others, they feel that it is an illness and they want it to be labelled as such. 

So I think it's important that we're very respectful on everybody's own individual views in this. And that's why in the policy I would call out our intent is coming from a good place here to show a supportive culture, and that dignity and respect of how we discuss it, how we label it, how we have banter about it needs to be very mindful that everybody has different views in this area. 

In my experience, this is one of the areas that can be one of the most sensitive areas where using language, using banter, can be very upsetting for somebody because they're already potentially anxious and upset. Yesterday, they could have thought that was good banter, and today it causes upset. 

Again, this is the watch-out. And that's why it's a really, really good approach that we are proactively having these conversations. 

Even when we do Dignity and Respect at Work training in general, we talk a lot about banter and how it's perceived, etc. But oftentimes, you will find that one person, when they're talking about . . . I often use my Kerry accent as an example. I love people having the banter about the accent. But for many, their accent and banter, we've seen many equality cases where people are discriminated and their cases are upheld because they find it offensive. 

What one person perceives as banter, another person may not, so it's always been respectful that it is the receiver that makes the decision as to whether that's respectful or not. So always err on the side of caution. 

That's the huge advantage of having the conversations around, "This is the policy. These are parameters", and just be very conscious that one person could sail through the menopause and there's no issue and could be kind of doubtful that it could be as bad for somebody else as they're saying that it could be, but respecting that each individual is different, particularly in an area like this. 

Rolanda: Yes. And I think there was a case, wasn't there? It was probably a GB one, where a manager sort of didn't necessarily accept what somebody was saying because his wife hadn't had those difficulties. So as you're saying, it's very much just like any illness. Some people are affected more than others. 

Caroline: Absolutely. It's one that people make very brushstroke. We've had numerous grievances, hence why I thought it was a good topic to focus on today. We've had numerous grievances where people are specifically like that. 

And again, we're finding now fertility treatment is another area where more and more people are openly saying, "I'm going through fertility treatment, and these are the supports that I require". Again, the importance, no different to menopause, is accepting that's part of life's journey, and our obligation not alone legal obligation, but our moral and our cultural obligation to support people 

We all know that well-being is something that during COVID got a huge spotlight put on it. But now, these kinds of very real measures, whether it's fertility, whether it's menopause, whether it's anxiety and stress, or any other array . . . We could have gone through so many other topics today. 

Another one that I'd love to cover at another stage is the whole area of grief, because I feel that these are very real and meaningful ways that we can, from an HR agenda, lead the way in supporting people in a very meaningful way on that roller coaster that is life where people will need support at different stages. 

Another really important point, Rolanda, and I'm sure all the people attending today will be very mindful of this, but we find that when people talk about the organisation that they're in and why they love it and why they're so loyal to it is because they were supported during those roller-coaster-of-life moments. 

And people will often point to, "Well, my menopause", or, "When I experienced grief", or those types of areas. So again, I think we need to appreciate that this is not just something that is good to do, but it's actually something that's really important and essential to do. 

Rolanda: Yeah. Now, somebody just put in a wee point there just to say when they were looking around for information on it, found a lot of information, and websites talked about an age limit of 40, in that it can start from 40, whereas they experienced that from much younger than that.  

 

So, again, that's an important point to recognise. People can experience it from a very young age. 

Caroline: Absolutely. And again, it's back to that individuality. There are lots of statistics that gives us what is the general scenario here. The same as anything, we can get general statistics. But a huge emphasis for me in the policy and in the awareness is we have to treat it as an individual case-by-case basis the same as we would with anything else that's going on for an individual. So it's got to be very much a tailored approach to see, "What does this employee need in terms of support, and how can we facilitate that?" 

Rolanda: And just on that particular subject in terms of support, 

 

If an employee says to a manager, "Look, I'm experiencing menopausal symptoms. It is affecting my ability to do my job. I feel I need a slight adjustment on my workload", would that be something that'd be seen as reasonable for them to do?  

Caroline: Absolutely, because I would say that otherwise, if that employer doesn't provide that reasonable accommodation for a reasonable amount of time . . . For most people, there are really good supports now in terms of natural as well as medicinal, etc. For many people, this is a phase of adjustment as much as anything else. And I think we realise now that there are an awful lot more supports out there. 

I mentioned the Joe Duffy radio show where he did the initial show, if you remember, last year. He had planned to do one show on it on his radio show, and it turned out that it continued for more than a week because many people would have given the story of back in the day where people weren't aware, first of all, that it was even a condition and many people didn't get any medical intervention both holistic or otherwise. 

And when I say medical intervention, I mean very much holistically. For many, it doesn't need to be prescribed. It can be different other positive things to assist them. 

But now, people are getting support much more early. For many people, it's the fact they're going through that phase of adjustment. And the intervention that we need to do as employers to support is at that very initial stage, which causes the most anxiety, which is the most . . . People aren't even aware of that perimenopausal phase, and trying to get their head around all of that is when they often need the most support. 

And then you'll have individual scenarios where people may need additional support, where I would argue we very much are, as employers, obliged to provide that reasonable accommodation. 

And with the word reasonable accommodation, reasonable also gets that emphasis, because it can't be a case of, "Look, I can't do my job". But it might be a case of, "Look, I need to start later because I'm not sleeping properly. Is there opportunity for readjustment of my workload to suit?" etc. 

And I would always put in review times. So it's a case of saying, "No problem. Let's review it again in two months". And once you have those review mechanisms in place, I think that really helps the employee and the employer and the manager to have a focus on, "We're all doing everything we can to try and assist". 

Rolanda: Okay. Interesting question here, Caroline.  

 

What's your advice for a manager who is female and is not in agreement with the menopause policy, as she says that having a policy in the first place highlights the female difference to the male cohort of staff? 

Caroline: I suppose to me that's the reason we're having it. We want to highlight the difference because we want to make sure that we normalise what is a normal transition in life. And we want to make sure that everybody feels that that is normalised. 

The statistics tell us that people feel embarrassed, or because they're not supported, they're not giving the real reason why they may need to be absent or why they need support. The whole reason is we want to highlight the difference, so I would say that's what we're trying to do, to normalise it. 

Rolanda: Yeah. You mentioned when you were chatting earlier about risk assessment.  

 

Could you talk a wee bit more about that, what you mean by just risk assessment for menopause? 

Caroline: I think that if somebody, for example, is saying, "Look, the temperature is adding to my symptoms", etc., and the person is coming to tell us that, then we need to do a risk assessment to go, "Okay, let's look at what the temperature is. Can we reduce it? Are there any other measures we can put in place? Do we need to get medical advice in relation to how the person is feeling?" etc. So, in some cases, people's symptoms will create the need. 

And again, that will be the minority in many cases. But if it's the case that the person is coming to us to tell us that the work environment particularly is causing the person additional medical symptoms and medical stress, etc., we then need to say, "Okay, let's do a risk assessment here to say, 'Can we reduce or eliminate those risks and support the person accordingly?'" 

And again, I would say that will be the minority rather than the majority. But we've had many where people have said, "Look, can I just get an additional fan? Can I move closer to the window?" etc., and then that's resolved the issue proactively. 

However, for others, the symptoms can be very severe. People may need time out. People may need work time adjustment, etc. So again, it's back to that individuality. 

But it's also trying to take out the example that you used there, which is the male boss saying, "Well, my wife's symptoms were grand, so I can't understand how they're so bad for you", which is one of the case law examples that is attached to that menopause resource, which, again, is a case that I refer to all the time when I'm raising awareness in relation to this. 

And that's what we're trying to do around that vicarious liability. We know that the majority of male managers will not do that, but it's the minority we're trying to ensure that we get to who won't make a statement like that. 

All the attendees are saying, "Oh my god, that's terrible. I can't believe somebody did that or said that". That's always in HR what we're trying to do, is negate against that minority that may make that person feel unsupported. 

Rolanda: So it's a standard risk assessment you do for anyone, really, who is experiencing some sort of symptoms associated with some sort of condition. 

Now, someone has asked  

 

Should you set a certain number of days off outside normal sick pay policy, perhaps, for time off for menopause, or would it be discretionary? What do you think in relation to that? 

Caroline: I think that because everybody is impacted so very differently, it should be very much on a case-by-case basis. For me, the most important thing is we normalise it, everybody feels supported, and it's very much on an individual case-by-case basis, then. The person knows, "I can come and make somebody aware of this, and I'll feel very supported in doing so, and my confidentiality, my dignity will be respected", etc. 

So I think, for me, that's the most important thing. I wouldn't be necessarily saying, "We need to set a certain amount of days", because for many there is no issue. It's for the people that need that support I think that's most important. 

Rolanda: One last question, folks, because Caroline is running to something else after this webinar, and that is just in relation to medical confirmation.  

You talked about sending to a doctor . . . I mean, should an employer require that from an employee? 

Caroline: I suppose, for me, the whole employment relationship is based on trust. And we saw a case law . . . there was an example recently where a lady made up the fact that she was pregnant, made up the fact that she was having a baby, to get maternity leave. It was completely all fictitious and she was going on maternity leave, but there was no baby. That is going to happen never for most employers. 

So to me, you're always erring on the side of the employment relationship is based on trust. Most people are going to be genuine and honest. And the whole idea of this ethos of supporting employees . . . 

To me, I wouldn't be doing that unless it's getting to where we need to send somebody to the company doctor because their symptoms are so severe it's really impacting work, i.e., that brain fog, which is impacting somebody's performance significantly, or indeed other symptoms that are impacting. Sending them to the company doctor is to identify how we can support them rather than anything else. 

So I think it has to be coming from the right place. And personally, I wouldn't be in favour of medical . . . No, I wouldn't. 

Rolanda: Okay. Well, listen, thank you very much. It is such . . . 

Caroline: My pleasure, Rolanda. Pleasure as always. 

Rolanda Caroline's contact details are on the screen there. And as you can see, there's a wide range of services that The HR Suite can provide. 

Just want to also add that all of our webinars are now on podcasts, so you can catch up with your podcast service with this and any of the other webinars that we've done. 

And then finally, just to mention again that we do have an eLearning programme if you're looking to sort of do something around awareness. You'll get information in the follow-up email with that. 

Our next webinar with Caroline . . . I don't know if I've got the date. I haven't got the date for that just down there, but we will let you know when our next webinar with Caroline is. That will be in April. 

We do have a webinar coming up later in the month with Lewis Silkin solicitors around . . . We have updated our Comparative Employment Law Table, and we'll be doing a webinar with Lewis Silkin on 24 March just to introduce that to you and talk about some of the subjects. That is very interesting. The differences in employment law between NI, GB, and ROI now are very interesting. 

So once again, Caroline, thank you very much for your time. 

Caroline: Pleasure. Thank you, Rolanda, as always, and thanks, everybody, for listening this morning. Take care. Thanks, everybody. 

Rolanda: Bye.

 

 

This article is correct at 01/03/2022
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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