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Employers must make reasonable adjustments for menopausal women or risk being sued

New guidance on menopause in the workplace, setting out employer’s legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, has been issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

22 February 2024

The stigma around the menopause may make it difficult for you to seek support from your employer but with the new guidance that was released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, encourages employers to adapt their policies to support those going through the menopause.

Research shows that one in ten women surveyed who have worked during the menopause have left their jobs due to symptoms, while two thirds of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 with experience of menopausal symptoms said they have had a mostly negative impact on them at work and yet menopausal women are also “the fastest growing demographic in the workplace”. However, very few workers request workplace adjustments during this time, often citing concerns about potential reactions.

It is essential that employers know how to support their employees during this time. Bosses should consider things such as room temperature and ventilation as well as providing rest areas or quiet rooms for women experiencing hot flushes.

Flexible working should also be considered, including being allowed to work from home, and start and finish times being varied if a woman has had a bad night's sleep or on a warmer day.

Relaxing uniform policies or allowing menopausal women to wear cooler clothes as well as providing fans could also be considered to support them during the working day.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

The symptoms of menopause vary from person to person but tend to include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular periods

Is menopause a disability?

If menopause symptoms have a long term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, they may be considered a disability. Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments and to not discriminate against the worker.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:  An employer understanding their legal duties is the foundation of equality in the workplace. But it is clear that many may not fully understand their responsibility to protect their staff going through the menopause. Our new guidance sets out these legal obligations for employers and provides advice on how they can best support their staff.

“We hope that this guidance helps ensure every woman going through the menopause is treated fairly and can work in a supportive and safe environment.”

If employers fail to make reasonable adjustments for their workers, they can become vulnerable to legal action. If you’ve suffered workplace discrimination whilst going through the menopause, our expert employment solicitors are on hand to offer support.

Menopause Q&A

Our employment law expert, Doreen Reeves, has fought alongside women who’ve experienced unfair treatment at work due to the effect that menopausal symptoms have had on their performance. In this video, she answers common queries and shares specialist advice to help menopausal women get the support their entitled to from their employer.

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