Endometriosis Awareness Week – Women’s Health in the Workplace

3rd March 2022


by Abigail Reynolds, Chartered Legal Executive, Employment Law

Endometriosis is an often-silent condition where cells similar to the cells found in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. Endometriosis can affect women and those assigned female at birth from puberty to menopause, and can cause devastating effects. Symptoms can include chronic pain, fatigue, depression, fertility issues and difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments.

Many conditions that affect women and those assigned female at birth can be debilitating, including endometriosis and the menopause, and, with the workplace becoming more gender diverse, it is now more important than ever that employers recognise and address women’s health issues. There is also a financial benefit to improving the working environment, with around 11 million women having taken long-term health breaks during their working lives, and three million leaving work because of feminine health problems. The question is what can you, as an employer, do to increase awareness?

UNISON, the UK’s leading public service trade union for women, has recommended the following:

  • Implementing a flexible sickness absence policy to cater for women’s health, including in exceptional circumstances modifying the trigger levels to take account of women’s health issues;
  • Training for managers to that they are aware of gender-specific health conditions;
  • Appropriate adjustments (such as flexible working hours) so women can have control when dealing with their symptoms or over their working environment;
  • Implementing a system of freely available guidance on gender-specific illnesses and conditions, including opportunities for employees to speak confidentiality about their condition, particularly if that employee’s line manager is male.

On the issue of the menopause in particular, the guidance from ACAS stresses the importance of employers being aware of the potential impact of this condition, not least because an employee or worker who is disadvantaged because of their symptoms may be found to have been subjected to discrimination. This may result in a successful claim against the employer.

Employers should consider revisiting their policies, using gender-sensitive risk assessments and educating their staff on gender-specific conditions in the workplace. This includes guidance for home-workers. Education and awareness is key in ensuring that those who may suffer from gender-specific conditions are not disadvantaged in the workplace.

Should you have any concerns about how to deal with gender-specific conditions or require assistance with training or drafting employment policies, please contact our Employment Team on 01945 461456.


Find out more about Abigail Reynolds

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This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances.  Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to provide such advice.

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