Article written by Noella Gooden, Employment Solicitor (Australian qualified)
Endometriosis is a chronic and debilitating condition affecting approximately 1 in 10 women in the UK. March 2023 marks Endometriosis Action Month, which aims to raise awareness of this condition and promote better support for those living with it.
In this article, we discuss how UK employers can support workers with endometriosis, and what legal obligations they have to do so.
What is Endometriosis?
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, 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.
How does Endometriosis affect work?
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.
Employers’ legal obligations
Under UK employment law, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support workers with a disability or long-term health condition. Endometriosis is considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Reasonable adjustments employers can make may include:
- Flexible working arrangements
- Providing extra breaks or rest periods
- Making adjustments to the work environment
- Additional support.
Employers should also have policies in place to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Employers and Endometriosis
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.
To discuss the contents of this article or for specific advice on an employment law matter, please feel free to email me or contact the Employment department on 020 8858 6971.