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Menstrual Health in the Workplace

The government is planning to develop a Women’s Health Strategy for England, having recently launched a survey which is looking at menstrual health alongside other female health issues.  Although it is unlikely to impose legal rules on employers in the short to medium term, a number of UK charities are calling for increased protection for women in relation to female health issues.  Indeed, the UK is not alone in reviewing the laws in this area, with Spain introducing legislation to give women suffering from severe period pain, three days’ medical leave each month, paid for by the government. This could be extended to five days in appropriate cases.

 

So, what should employers make of this issue?

 

Period Pain

Most women suffer mild symptoms during their period, which can usually be dealt with by over the counter medication.  In some cases, however, women have medical conditions such as adenomyosis, endometriosis, fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease and can suffer from excruciating pain and heavy periods.  Moreover, many women find the effects of the menopause can result in various health issues, such as anxiety/depression, brain fog or urinary tract infections.

 

The Equality Act 2010

Period pain and the menopause are not specifically protected under the Equality Act 2010.  If, however, an employee is treated unfairly because of these conditions, it may amount to discrimination under the protected characteristics of sex, disability or age.

 

In terms of disability, the legal test is whether an individual has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.  If an employee can demonstrate that she has a disability in the legal sense due to her period or the menopause, her employer is under a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This might include adjusting triggers in any absence management policies.

 

As this topic receives more publicity, we may see women with debilitating period pain and associated symptoms or problematic menopausal symptoms taking action at work, as we all become more comfortable discussing the issue.  Furthermore, even if menstrual symptoms aren’t serious enough to amount to a disability, they may still impact on staff performance.

 

Many businesses are therefore realising that women need particular support regarding their periods and the menopause and want to be proactive in managing the issue.

 

What steps should employers take?

Employers should make it clear that periods and the associated pain are not a taboo topic and should be talked about in the same way that people discuss other health problems.

 

  1. Be reasonable

Extreme symptoms related to periods or the menopause may cause female employees to phone in sick.  They may complain of stomach ache or other general symptoms rather than expressly referring to menstrual problems.  It may therefore be useful, before triggering your formal absence management policy, to have a sensitive conversation to find out if there is an underlying reason for their regular absence (or even irregular absence as not all women have periods on a fixed cycle or experience the same levels of pain each month).  If it is related to their periods, consider making some adjustments to the trigger points in the policy and/or allowing women to work more flexibly during this time, where that is possible.

 

  1. Be flexible

Periods affect women in different ways and to different degrees.  Some women may need immediate access to a toilet because of a heavy flow, to a hot water bottle or over the counter medication to sooth cramps.

 

Are there any changes you can make to support staff to continue to work rather than phone in sick?  It may be that they can work at home, or make up their hours at some other time.  This won’t be possible for all jobs but it might be worth thinking ahead about how you might be able to accommodate flexible working for a few days each month.

 

  1. Be supportive

Try and be supportive, rather than judgemental.  Don’t bring your own experience into the discussion or that of your female relatives.  Find out what you can do to help.

 

Policies

By having a specific policy in place or tailoring existing policies, such as sickness absence and equality policies, your business makes it clear that it is aware of menstrual health and female related health issues.  This can help to remove the common prejudices and embarrassment that relate to this topic, enhancing the work environment for female employees.  Such an approach is likely to have a positive impact on staff morale and sickness absence rates, whilst reducing your risk of costly discrimination claims.

 

If you would like advice from the Employment team at MLP Law in respect of any of the issues raised here or more generally, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0161 926 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @HRHeroUK.

MLP’s Charity of the Year 2022

Here at MLP Law we pride ourselves in doing the right thing for our communities. One of the most important aspects of that ethic is that each year, staff choose a nominated charity to raise funds for over the next 12 months. This year, the MLP family have chosen Headway, the Brain Injury Association as their charity of choice for 2022, to raise much-needed funds for the important work that Headway does in our community.

Headway is a nationwide brain injury charity that works with individuals who have suffered a brain injury. They provide vital support and information services, including a Freephone telephone line, a comprehensive and award winning website together with an emergency fund to assist people with the financial implications of having a brain injury, plus an award winning range of booklets and publications to help inform people about brain injuries.

Brain injury can challenge every aspect of your life and the losses can be both severe and permanent. We never think that a brain injury will happen to us, but each year, 350,000 people are admitted to hospital with a brain injury. When that happens, Headway is here to help.

MLP are proud to be supporting the vital of work of Headway this year, and staff together with their families will be undertaking a number of different events throughout the year to raise funds for Headway.

As part of the 2022 fundraising initiative for Headway, MLP staff have ‘Dress Down Thursday’, where staff can attend the office in more casual attire than usual, and pay a donation towards Headway. Staff can of course also participate in this if working at home, and contribute accordingly.

MLP staff are also planning to run in the 2023 Manchester Marathon, either individually or as a relay team, to raise sponsorship funds for Headway. A variety of other events are planned throughout the year, in order to ensure that Headway receives a generous donation at the conclusion of the year.

MLP Law are committed to a comprehensive and diverse corporate social responsibility scheme and supporting charity is an important way to give back and contribute towards our community and to assist those in need of help following serious illness such as brain injury.

We would love to hear your suggestions on what changes and help MLP can have to our community or any suggestions as to fund raising initiatives. If you happen to have any, email us on katied@mlplaw.co.uk or alternatively call 0161 926 9969.

50 miles in March for Henshaws

Last month we announced our charities of the year for 2021, Henshaws and SANDs. To set off a hopefully successful year of fundraising, MLP Law are excited to be taking part in Henshaws’ ’50 Miles in March’, as a firm. 

The idea is to Walk or run 50 miles in March, or add a further 50 miles to your usual routine, and raise vital money for charity. It’s a great challenge, and it’ll help Henshaws provide vital support and services, whilst keeping us active and healthy too!

More about Henshaws and the wonderful work that they do can be found on their website: https://www.henshaws.org.uk/

Every pound we raise will help Henshaws continue to support the 250 people who start to lose their sight every day in the UK. A donation of £5 will fund an online workshop at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre and a donation of £10 will help fund our vital telephone support service for those struggling with isolation. Every pound really does make a huge difference!

We will be posting regular updates of our progress on our Facebook fundraising page, to show milestones reached and also the lovely scenery we see along the way. We have set our fundraising target to £150 and hope to reach, if not exceed this total for such a life changing charity.

If you would like to join us on our journey, and possibly make a donation of whatever you can spare the link to our fundraising page is below.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/747638809461086/

Now it’s time to get our shoes on – there’s 50 miles to go.

Leanne Sodergren announced as COO of MLP Law

MLP Law Ltd. is pleased to announce the appointment of Leanne Sodergren as COO for the Company.  Leanne’s appointment reflects her many years of legal sector knowledge – her career in law firms spans over 20 years and she joined MLP over 15 years ago.  Having been MLP’s Finance Director for a number of years, in her new role Leanne will support Owner and CEO Stephen Attree and the senior team in executing the company’s strategy to become the leading law firm for businesses, business owners and their families. 

Stephen Attree said, “I am delighted to announce Leanne as COO.  For me, the many years of experience in the sector and knowledge of MLP means Leanne’s talent, from a values and behaviours perspective and not just from an operational and financial perspective, is invaluable to the business as we plan and execute our strategy over the coming months and years. Our ambition is to continue to build a leading legal services business which has its clients, its people and technological innovation at the heart of everything we do.”

Leanne said, “I’m delighted to be expanding my role and growing with MLP Law as it goes from strength to strength. We have an excellent well respected and trusted team with a strong reputation in the legal sector and I’m looking forward to bringing my skills and experience to help us grow and innovate through the next phase of our development.”

Stephen Attree confirmed “The goal for Leanne is to develop our clear client service strategy and ensure MLP Law has the IT, processes and systems to support its activity and growth creating a well-run efficient integrated business with its clients and people at the center of everything we do.”

Happy Easter from MLP Law

Here at MLP Law we would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter. With restrictions starting to lift, we hope many of you get to spend the bank holiday weekend outdoors with friends and family, weather depending!

As tradition at MLP Law, we usually buy Easter eggs for all our colleagues as a thank you for all the hard work our amazing teams continue to put in. However, this year as the majority of us are continuing to work remotely due to the ongoing government guidelines, we haven’t been able to do so in our usual way, and we have decided to do something a little different. Instead, we have decided to use the money to make a donation to one of our charities of the year, SANDs.

SANDs is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK, and the work that they do helps to reduce the number of baby fatalities and helps ensure that anyone affected by the death of a baby receives the best possible care and support for as long as they need it. 

This amazing charity does fantastic things with all the donations they receive, and we would like to take every opportunity we can to raise money for them.

To find out more about SANDs, click here.

We hope this is just the start to a very successful fundraising year here at MLP, and we will do all we can to support our charities. Once again, we hope you have a lovely and relaxing Easter and long bank holiday weekend.

International Women’s Day

MLP Law are celebrating our amazing women not just today, but everyday!

We are so proud of our team and how we work at MLP:-

55.5% of the Senior Executive Team are women

Overall 70% of the MLP Family are women

Everyone at MLP benefits from our “flexi time” arrangements, we also have full time employees, part time employees, consultants and fee share lawyers.

We work hard to recruit the very best talent – we can make it work for you!

We love to celebrate the achievements of our amazing MLP women and support each other to succeed everyday.

50 miles in March – and beyond

The first week of March has been and gone, and we are proud to say we have made fantastic progress in our efforts to complete 50 miles in March for Henshaws, as a firm.

We have already completed 54 miles in March! Our MLP team have really gone above and beyond and we are so proud to say we have already exceeded the target. However, we won’t stop there. We are going to keep going in the aim to raise as much money as possible for Henshaws.

For more information on the amazing work this charity is conducting please take a look at their  website: https://www.henshaws.org.uk/

There have been some beautiful views along the way and it has really brightened up our lockdown blues to see some different surroundings! We are pleased to share these with everyone and hope it encourages others to get out and about – you see so many different things on foot.

If you would like to make a donation, or keep up to date with our future miles please take a look at our Facebook donation page: https://www.facebook.com/donate/747638809461086/

Every pound we raise will help Henshaws continue to support the 250 people who start to lose their sight every day in the UK. A donation of £5 will fund an online workshop at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre and a donation of £10 will help fund our vital telephone support service for those struggling with isolation. Every pound really does make a huge difference!

Stress Awareness and Prevention at MLP Law

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April, since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. According to the Mental Health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

As an employer, mental health and well-being should be a priority, and here at MLP we make sure it is. Our dedicated wellbeing team work hard to be able to continually support every employee at MLP whether it’s remotely or in the office.

It is important to talk about stress and feeling comfortable to do so. Tackling stigma can make a real difference to sickness absence rates, productivity and retention. Our Wellbeing team host monthly Zoom coffee mornings for employees, to give everyone a chance to catch up with each other and to provide a platform where everyone can speak openly and freely about any work stresses or personal life stresses they are experiencing.

We also realise that some people may find it easier to write down how they are feeling rather than speaking about it in a group setting. The Wellbeing team also sends out an online survey monthly to hear from colleagues about how they are doing (in and out of work). This survey can be answered completely anonymously as we appreciate sometimes it is hard to open up about how you’re feeling. All responses are carefully considered and discussed with meaningful action being taken by the Wellbeing team after all feedback has been provided.

As well as talking and providing the platforms for honest communication, we realise that another key way to help reduce and tackle stress is through social outlets and each month we ensure we have a Firm Social that allows everyone to switch off and to relax and enjoy themselves. Recently, our Teams have taken it in turns to host virtual socials once a month and most recently our socials have included an MLP Task Master event in aid of Homeless Link, a day at the races, and a whodunit murder mystery!

For more tips on dealing with stress visit The Stress Management Society’s website, where there are many useful resources including a guide on how to cope with stress – “Taking you from distress to de-stress” , give it a read and remember to take time to look after yourself, and if you are struggling with stress please seek a friend or colleague who can help provide resources and support.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

‘There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature’ – Aristotle

Mental health awareness week runs from 10th-16th of May. This year the theme is nature, and the Mental Health Foundation has two big aims for what they want to achieve this week. Firstly, to inspire more people to connect with nature in different ways and noticing the impact it can have on mental health, and secondly, to convince decision makers that access to nature and the quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.

Mark Rowland the Chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation stated that in lockdown, one of the main coping mechanisms that was utilised was going on walks and getting outside. There’s lots of simple ways you can connect with nature; it doesn’t take you to run a marathon to feel the benefits. Something as simple as going for a woodland walk and taking the time to listen to birdsong can do you the world of good.  It doesn’t even take you to go outside to be close to nature, even listening to audios or watching documentaries about nature can increase positive thinking.

Here at MLP Law, we encourage our team go outside and get some fresh air when working in the office and from home. Taking a short break to go for a walk or even just to sit outside is very important and can put things into a better perspective and create a better mind set when getting back to work.

This week is a chance to take small steps to improve our mental health and encourage people to speak up and educate others to listen. For more information and resources to help get you closer to nature this week visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week.