How should employers be supporting workers with endometriosis?
March is Endometriosis Action Month, which aims to raise awareness of this condition and to promote better support for those living with it. Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women in the UK.
In this article, we will discuss how UK employers can support workers with endometriosis, and what legal obligations they have to do so.
Endometriosis is a painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the womb. This tissue can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, bowel, or other parts of the pelvic area. Endometriosis can cause chronic pain, heavy periods, painful sex, and fertility issues. Other factors include fatigue, nausea, and bowel or bladder problems. As the symptoms of the condition can be severe, they will often impact employment, so it is important employers understand the impact of this condition.
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a person's ability to work. The pain and other symptoms can make it difficult to concentrate, sit or stand for a long time, and perform physically demanding tasks. As a result, women with endometriosis are more likely to take time off work, and they may experience discrimination and stigma in the workplace.
In some severe cases, endometriosis may be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010, particularly if it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Under UK employment law, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support workers with a disability.
Reasonable adjustments employers can make may include:
- flexible working arrangements;
- providing extra breaks or rest periods;
- making adjustments to the work environment;
- allowing time off for medical appointments; or
- additional support.
Employers should also have policies in place to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a person's ability to work, and it is important that employers provide support to workers with this condition. Employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments and support employees with endometriosis. By offering flexible working arrangements, reasonable adjustments, awareness and training, access to healthcare, and reviewing policies, employers can create an inclusive and supportive workplace for employees with endometriosis.