'Wellness suite' | 'Reset & recovery pods' among Deutsche Bank's new plans to support menopausal staff

'Reset & recovery pods' among Deutsche Bank's new plans to support menopausal staff

Deutsche Bank is preparing to roll out a series of support measures for menopausal employees, including “reset and recovery pods” at its new London offices.

The Telegraph reports that the investment banking giant is building private booths which will feature reclining chairs and cooling and lighting controls which will help alleviate symptoms battled by menopausal and perimenopausal women, such as hot flushes and migraines.

Deutsche Bank’s new ‘wellness suite’, of which the pods are just one element, will also include physiotherapy and GP facilities, a mindfulness space and a multi-faith prayer room.

The facilities are also reportedly set up to accommodate workers with additional needs such as ADHD and autism, according to The Telegraph.

The wellness suite is to be introduced from July at Deutsche Bank’s new HQ at 21 Moorfields, a brand new building in the City. 

Firms could be sued for lack of menopause support in the workplace, watchdog warns

Deutsche Bank may be stepping up its efforts to make employees with wellbeing needs feel more comfortable at work, but the UK’s equality watchdog recently issued a warning to other UK firms that they could be sued for disability discrimination if they fail to make reasonable adjustments for workers affected by menopause.

New guidance on menopause in the workplace, setting out employer’s legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, was issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in February 2024, amid reports from many women of the negative impacts of menopausal symptoms in the workplace, with some even feeling compelled to leave their jobs as a result.

If menopause symptoms have a long term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, they may be considered a disability. Therefore, under the Equality Act 2010, an employer will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments and to not discriminate against the worker.

Additionally, workers experiencing menopause symptoms may be protected from less favourable treatment related to their menopause symptoms on the grounds of age and sex.

The EHRC said that, as the number of women experiencing menopause while in employment increases, it was essential that employers know how to support workers experiencing menopause symptoms.

“Not only does this ensure they meet their legal responsibilities, but also that women in this group are able to continue to contribute to the workplace and benefit from work,” the watchdog stated.

The new guidance from the EHRC aims to clarify employers’ legal obligations and provide practical tips on making reasonable adjustments and fostering positive conversations about the menopause with their workers.

Research shows that one in ten women surveyed who have worked during the menopause have left their jobs due to symptoms, while two thirds of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 with experience of menopausal symptoms said they have had a mostly negative impact on them at work.

However, very few workers request workplace adjustments during this time, often citing concerns about potential reactions.

HR ‘increasingly taking steps’ to create menopause-friendly workplaces

Charlotte Ashton, Associate Solicitor at esphr from WorkNest, welcomed the new guidance from the EHRC, stating it was “crucial that employers are aware of the legal risks to be aware of when managing menopausal employees.”

Ashton explained: “Symptoms vary between people but in cases where they are more serious, it could amount to a disability under the Equality Act. This means they’re not only protected under the Equality Act against discrimination but there is also a legal duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

“Before utilising performance management or absence management processes, employers should consider what, if any, reasonable adjustments can and should be made to minimise the effects of the symptoms on the person’s ability to perform their role and attend work more regularly.

“Even if symptoms are not so severe as to amount to a disability, failure to take them into account in absence management or performance management procedures could still amount to sex discrimination.”

Ashton added: “Fortunately, menopause in the workplace is becoming less of a taboo topic and employers and HR professionals are increasingly taking steps to make their workplaces more menopause friendly and understand their obligations. However, we know that employers can feel out their depth and struggle to know where to start. Menopause awareness training can be hugely beneficial in this instance, especially for line managers supporting staff with symptoms.

“Our research has found that 66% of line managers aren’t confident in supporting menopause in the workplace, and only half of managers (52%) have received any training on how to support employees’ going through menopause.

“Supporting managers by providing menopause training can give them confidence in having conversations and educate them about the potential impact menopausal symptoms can have on an employee’s performance.”

WorkNest provided HR Grapevine with some top tips for how HR can support staff affected by menopause:

  1. Introduce a menopause policy. This will give women the tools to understand how to approach their managers, and help managers understand how to support employees who raise menopausal issues.

  2. Consider reasonable adjustments. Simple, low-cost support, like a desk fan, time off to visit their GP, or even just the opportunity to talk about it, can really help.

  3. Ensure health and safety risk assessments consider the specific needs of those experiencing the menopause and that the working environment will not make their symptoms worse.

  4. Openly discuss the menopause to help reduce stigma. Raise awareness, share evidence-based information and signpost people to resources. Organisations such as The Menopause Charity and Menopause and Me provide helpful guidance, podcasts, symptoms checklists and other educational materials, and employees may also benefit from attending ‘Menopause Cafés’ held across the country, where people meet to discuss menopause in an accessible, respectful and confidential space.

  5. Be aware that this is not just a gender or age issue. Colleagues can be indirectly affected by the menopause, if for example a spouse or significant other is going through it. Similarly, don’t forget to consider transgender and non-binary members of staff, who may also experience menopausal symptoms and require support.

  6. Finally, make it clear that line managers don’t need to be menopause experts. Managers are often uncomfortable talking about menopause because they don’t feel knowledgeable enough on the subject. Emphasise that their role is simply to support their team members and follow your organisation’s policies. If it helps managers to feel more confident about having these conversations, menopause awareness training may be beneficial.

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