Managing The Menopause at Work

Mon 25th Mar 2024

The menopause can have a big impact on the day to day lives of employees. It is a natural part of aging and typically happens to women between the ages of 45 and 55 (although can happen earlier for some women). Menopausal symptoms can last several years and can include:

  • Psychological issues such as mood disturbances, anxiety, depression, memory loss, panic attacks, loss of confidence and reduced concentration;
  • Hot flushes;
  • Sleep disturbance;
  • Night sweats;
  • Irregular periods;
  • Muscle and joint stiffness, aches and pains;
  • Headaches;
  • Weight gain; and
  • Palpitations.

All of these symptoms above can pose a challenge to women experiencing the menopause in both their personal and work lives. Subsequently having a big impact on concentration and relationships with colleagues at work.

For employers, the menopause is a wellbeing and health concern for staff. It must be handled with care, and employers need to be aware of staff experiencing the symptoms and how this might affect their work. Having steps and procedures in place will help tackle menopause related issues in the workplace.

Employers should follow their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Although the menopause is not a protected characteristic, case law has highlighted concerns surrounding making sure women going through the menopause are treated fairly. Employees experiencing menopause who are treated less favourably and put at a disadvantage could result in discrimination, as it could be related to their age, a disability or sex (which are protected characteristics).

Case law has demonstrated that the menopause can be considered to be a disability. In 2022, an employment tribunal, for the first time, had decided that menopause symptoms could amount to a disability. The Equality and Humans Rights Commission issued guidance in February 2024, taking the stance that if menopause symptoms have a long term and significant impact on a woman’s ability to carry out day to day activities, then this may be considered a disability.

Employers should be mindful to considering reasonable adjustments in light of this, as failure to make any such adjustments, if the employee’s menopause symptoms amount to a disability, will amount to disability discrimination. Employers are under a legal obligation not to directly or indirectly discriminate because of the disability, or subject the women to discrimination arising from disability, age or sex.

Things for employers to consider:

  • Relaxing uniform policies;
  • Recording menopause related absences separately;
  • Taking disciplinary action because of menopause related absence could be unlawful discrimination, unless justified;
  • The language used surrounding menopause and symptoms;
  • Having facilities in place for women, including rest rooms and fans;
  • Having a menopause policy in place which outlines support available and how menopause symptoms can be managed in the workplace;
  • Making sure staff at all levels are made aware and trained on the impact of menopause;
  • Carrying out health and safety checks, as per legal requirements.

Reasonable adjustments could include:

  • Being flexible with start and finish times;
  • Allowing breaks when needed;
  • Allowing working from home and time off;
  • Changing duties in their role.

Ensuring a focused and open approach to menopause, and the symptoms experienced by women, can help prevent employers being subject to claims for discrimination, as well as making sure affected staff are happy and supported. 

Contact me

Use this form to contact Emily Morrison directly with details of your enquiry. It costs nothing to make an enquiry and it is entirely confidential.

Alternatively, you can email emily.morrison@salaw.com or call 01727 798106.

See our privacy notice to find out how we use and protect your data.

Name & Email
Message
Read SA Law's latest employment views & insights
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
The New Changes to Employment Law

Emily Morrison was asked by City A.M to comment on the new changes to employment law coming into force on 6th April, and discusses what businesses…

Read More
SA Law Employment Laptop
Views & Insights
What Changes will we see to Flexible Working Requests?

With employees being given the right to request flexible working from ‘day one’ of their employment, Chris Cook and Emily Morrison explain…

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Injury to Feelings: Vento Bands Increased

The President of the Employment Tribunals has confirmed an increase in the compensation bands (known as Vento bands) awarded for injury to feeling in…

Read More
SA Law Employment Laptop
Views & Insights
Introducing Fees in the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal

The Ministry of Justice has launched an open consultation on introducing fees in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal. The proposed…

Read More
SA Law Employment Laptop
Views & Insights
New ICO Guidance on Sharing Personal Data in Mental Health Emergencies

Employers need to plan ahead to ensure personal data can be shared appropriately to protect those affected by a mental health crisis.

Read More
Stained glass window Employment SA Law
Views & Insights
Employment Tribunal Compensation Limits from 6 April 2024

The Government has announced this year’s annual increase to Employment Tribunal compensation limits for certain tribunal awards and other statutory payments,…

Read More
SA Law Employment Laptop
Views & Insights
In the Firing Line… Fire and Rehire - the Government Responds to Consultation.

P&O’s mass fire and rehire of employees in 2022, shone a spotlight on exactly how companies use this practice. It sparked a huge show of public concern…

Read More
Join our mailing list

Want our latest views & insight along with exclusive event invitations and much more sent directly to you? Discover our Knowledge Share newsletter

Read More

© SA LAW 2024

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.