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Menopause in the workplace – the duties of employers

Alexandra McGlade

2

Minute Read

22 Feb 2024

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued guidance on menopause in the workplace, setting out employers’ obligations under the Equality Act 2010. This guidance comes in line with research which shows that two thirds of working women aged between 40 and 60, who have experienced menopausal symptoms, said the symptoms have had a mostly negative impact on them at work.


The EHRC’s guidance notes that menopause symptoms – which can include brain fog, difficulty sleeping and hot flushes – can amount to a disability if they have a substantial and long-term impact on an individual’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

 

Employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments when an employee has a disability, and the EHRC has suggested reasonable adjustments such as allowing flexibility over an employee’s start or finish times, providing a fan or allowing working from home. Further support and reasonable adjustments include:

 

  • Temporarily adjusting work allocation – if a worker’s symptoms include difficulty concentrating

  • Allowing more frequent breaks from a workstation

  • Providing counselling – as symptoms of the menopause can include low mood, depression and anxiety

  • Relaxation of dress code

  • Monitoring workplace temperatures to ensure menopausal symptoms are not exacerbated

  • Use of a menopause policy.

 

Failure to make reasonable adjustments where an employee has a disability can result in disability discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal. Workers experiencing menopause symptoms may also be protected from less favourable treatment related to their menopause symptoms on the grounds of age and sex. It is really important for employers to be aware of the risks and their legal obligations towards employees to avoid costly claims in the Employment Tribunal.

 

We are seeing a rise in the number of claims relating to discrimination in connection with menopausal symptoms. We are finding that a lot of disputes arise from a lack of understanding of the menopause on the part of management, rather than any intention to discriminate. As a result, we would recommend training for your management teams which the CG team provide, either in person or via a webinar or pre-recorded training video. Training can increase awareness and understanding as well as provide practical guidance on how to manage employees with menopausal symptoms that are impacting them at work.  As always, the Employment Team are on hand to assist with any queries.

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