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Menopause in the workplace

View profile for Luke Brown
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Menopause can cause a variety of symptoms which affect a woman’s day-to-day life, and these symptoms can last for years.

This, in turn, can affect a woman’s work life whereby they may be unable to fulfil certain expectations that the employer has of them; for example, if a woman is feeling fatigued, suffering from memory loss and other medical conditions due to symptoms of menopause, she may not be able to achieve targets that she once was able to achieve.

Tackling the obstacles that come with menopause can help create a better working environment for all workers. It can assist employers with avoiding and mitigating potential claims that may arise through the treatment of an employee who is suffering from menopause.

Symptoms of menopause may cause physiological and physical consequences that meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act (2010), with a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. This entails that it could be possible for a woman to meet the definition of disability under employment law, which makes an employer susceptible to direct and indirect disability discrimination claims, either by unfavourable treatment, by a failure to make reasonable adjustments or even a provision in place that disproportionately affects women. 

The Equality Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, whether directly, indirectly or by harassment. An example of sex discrimination could arise when an employer refuses to acknowledge that the symptoms a woman suffers from menopause are mitigating factors in reviewing performance, whereby similar symptoms arise through another condition, which would be acknowledged as a mitigating factor for male workers. 

Also, as menopause usually occurs at a certain age, detrimental treatment could give rise to an age discrimination claim against an employer.

As all employers should be aware, they are obliged to ensure that they look after the health and safety of their workers under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). This includes women who are experiencing menopause. Ensuring the health and safety of women suffering from menopause can be met through processes such as carrying out appropriate risk assessments focusing on symptoms suffered. Attention should be paid to matters such as ventilation to avoid over-heated conditions, toilets, and access to water (this is not an exhaustive list).

Consideration should also be given to those whose relatives, spouses, or are caregivers to women suffering from menopause as those people may too be suffering from, e.g. lack of sleep. However, it will not afford these people the above mentioned discrimination and health and safety protections.

The ACAS guidance guides employers on ways to manage menopause at work. For example:

  • Create and implement a menopause policy.
  • Provide training for managers to deal with any concerns sensitively and confidentially.
  • Encourage changing the working environment, such as working hours, hybrid working, or the workplace.
  • Signpost the range of support services and advice available.
  • Encourage employees to engage with their GPs.
  • Offer support from occupational health.
  • Carrying out health and safety checks and risk assessments
  • Managing sickness absence and job performance
  • Having menopause and wellbeing champions 
  • Give staff the option to have private conversations with nominated persons about how menopause affects them at work and how they could help. 

Menopause should be treated with a high level of sensitivity and confidentiality. A recent case concerning Leigh Best successfully brought a sex harassment and age discrimination case against her former employer due to her manager shouting ‘[she] must be in her menopause’ in public in front of customers. This is an example of why providing training to all staff is key to managing a better workplace environment for employees and employers alike.

The Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) commissioned a survey to investigate menopause in the workplace. WEC found that nearly a third of women (31%) who were surveyed had missed work because of their symptoms, and only 11% of women surveyed had asked for workplace adjustments. 25% of the women surveyed had not asked for adjustments due to a concern about how others would react, and 19% did not know who they could speak to about the adjustments.

WEC has confirmed the solutions for workplace adjustments relating to menopause are within easy reach for many employers, which includes flexible working, temperature control and stopping “banter” relating to menopause in the workplace, as this can have an adverse effect on those who suffer from menopause.  

A survey has revealed that 24% of women stated a menopause policy or other support measures are in place.  43% of women stated there was no such measures at their workplace and the remainder did not know whether such measures were in place.

We would always advise employers to not only seek advice on how to protect their employees who are suffering from menopause but also to safeguard your business from potential claims arising out of menopause in the workplace by putting in appropriate measures to protect both you and your employees.  

If you would like assistance with creating and implementing a menopause policy, please get in touch with one of our employment law specialists at or on 02392 660261.