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Employers urged to make menopause adjustments

Published on: 7 Mar 2024

Employers risk legal action if they fail to make “reasonable adjustments” for women experiencing the menopause, according to guidance unveiled by the equalities watchdog.

Employers urged to make menopause

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Menopause in the workplace: Guidance for employers aims to clarify employers’ legal obligations to women going through the menopause and experiencing such symptoms as brain fog, insomnia and hot flushes.

The guidance states that employers should consider improving ventilation or reducing temperatures in workplaces, providing rest or quiet areas, and relaxing uniform policies. They should also offer different working hours so that women who are struggling to sleep can start later, or allow them to work from home “where possible”.

It also warns that menopause symptoms can be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a long-term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. If symptoms amount to a disability, an employer is legally obliged to make adjustments, as well to avoid directly or indirectly discriminating on grounds of disability as well as age and sex.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’s report Menopause in the workplace, reveals that 67% of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 who have menopausal symptoms report a mostly negative impact at work. Of those negatively affected, 79% were less able to concentrate, 68% experienced more stress, 49% felt less patient with clients and colleagues and 46% felt less physically able to carry out work tasks.

Meanwhile, a study by the Fawcett Society, Menopause and the workplace, found that one in 10 women who worked during the menopause have left a job due to their symptoms. Eight out of 10 said their employer had not shared information, trained staff or put in place a menopause absence policy.