Menopause Guidance

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued new guidance for employers on Menopause in the Workplace which can be found here.

The guidance advises that menopause symptoms can be considered a disability if they have a long-term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal daily activities.  In these circumstances, there is a requirement upon employers to implement reasonable adjustments where appropriate.

Employers already have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments in the case of a person with a disability; and they must ensure they do not directly or indirectly discriminate against a woman (or any employee) because of a disability. 

The new guidance reiterates that employees who display menopausal symptoms must also be protected from direct and indirect discrimination and harassment on the grounds of age and sex.

The Government have considered and rejected calls in the past to include menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act believing current legislation already provides protection.  This guidance however, from the EHRC, brings into focus the need for employers to consider taking action to make working life for women who experience menopause better.

There are a number of recommendations in the guidance these include: 

  • Flexibility around start and finish times particularly if the employees sleep has been disrupted.
  • Working from home.
  • Amending sickness absence records to record menopause related absences separately.
  • Encouraging open conversations about menopause throughout an organisation (through training or “toolbox talks” or other learning sessions.
  • Reviewing the workplace environment, (e.g. room temperature and ventilation).
  • Relaxing any dress codes where these may disadvantage menopausal women.

Whilst there continues to be a debate about the need for legislation/guidance on this matter, it is clear that recent case law has shown that employers face an increasing risk of claims of discrimination from women who have been treated unfairly, unreasonably or inappropriately as a result of going through the menopause; and this guidance aims to redress this situation.

Sentient clients can access a template Menopause Policy (currently being updated in light of the EHRC guidance) which can be edited and personalised to reflect your organisation’s policy; and our advisors are happy to discuss your needs at any time. 

For more support on the latest HR regulations and recommendations, access our industry leading HR service here, or talk to our team for advice and support.

You can also get the latest insight from our HR and Health & Safety webinars. Find out more and register interest here.