Menopause in the Workplace: New Guidance

By Rachel Davis

Principal Associate

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently issued new guidance on Menopause in the Workplace.

Menopause usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can be earlier or later. It can happen naturally or due to surgery, medical treatment or genetics.

With our population now living and working longer, and with an increasing number of women in the workplace, menopausal women are the fastest-growing group of workers in the UK and make up a large proportion of the workforce.

Menopause can have a significant negative impact on women at work and in some cases makes them feel forced to leave the workforce, due to symptoms of poor concentration, loss of confidence, lack of energy, brain fog and stress. 

Although Menopause is not a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010, menopausal workers are protected from discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of disability, age and sex.

If menopause symptoms have a long term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, these symptoms could be considered a disability and the employer will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments and to not subject the worker to disability discrimination.  Reasonable adjustments that employers can make to alleviate the symptoms of menopause, may include providing desk fans, ventilation and water, access to a quiet space/room and flexible working.  Employers must also ensure not to subject workers to harassment or discrimination on the grounds of age or sex.

Given the number of women in the workforce, who will at some point experience the menopause, it is essential that employers know how to support menopausal workers and put measures in place, not only to reduce the risk of claims but to retain and safeguard the wellbeing of their staff.    Employers are advised to introduce or update policies and procedures and train their managers to encourage a culture where workers feel able to talk about their symptoms and ask for adjustments to help them at work.

For further advice on how best to support your staff going through menopause, or if you require assistance in training managers or introducing a menopause policy, please contact our specialist team of Employment Lawyers on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be very happy to assist.