Fri 15 Mar 2024

New guidance on menopause in the workplace published

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a guidance clarifying employers' legal obligations and providing practical tips on menopause in the workplace.

Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing awareness of menopause in the workplace and the negative impact it can have on those going through it.  In 2022, a survey published by the Fawcett Society found 1 in 10 women were leaving their job because of menopause.  Loss of employees, many of whom may be in senior positions with valuable business knowledge and experience, can carry a significant cost to employers.  

However, the impact menopause has on performance is not always being recognised by employers, and those affected can be reluctant to ask for support.

In order to enable employers to have a better understanding of their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to those going through the menopause, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published Menopause in the workplace: Guidance for employers.  The guidance consists of fairly concise sections on menopause and perimenopause, the negative impact it can have on women at work and an employers' legal obligations.  

It also includes three short videos covering:-

  • How workers going through the menopause may be protected by the Equality Act 2010 and the legal obligations employers have;
  • Making adjustments and preventing discrimination, including examples of adjustments that can be made, the benefits of proactively doing so and the risk of failing to do so;
  • Guidance on encouraging a culture where workers feel able to talk about symptoms and ask for support.

There are also video based case studies with top tips for employers showing how the University of Greenwich created a menopause-friendly workplace. 

The importance of recognising the impact menopause can have on workplace performance was highlighted last year when an employment tribunal awarded £65,000 to an employee. Her employer failed to make reasonable adjustments to support her when the menopause impacted on her previously good performance. 

While not all menopausal symptoms will amount to a disability, women may also be protected under provisions of the Equality Act dealing with sex and/or age discrimination.  However, whether workers are protected under the Equality Act or not, fostering an environment where they feel able to seek assistance from their employer will have benefits for both them and their employer.

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