Reasonable Adjustments for Menopausal Women

23rd February 2024

Reasonable Adjustments for Menopausal Women

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued guidance to employers on the menopause.

The menopause can have a significant impact on an employee’s performance and attendance with a wide range of unpleasant (and in some cases, debilitating) symptoms. The menopause can, in some cases, amount to a disability, which can give rise to a duty to make reasonable adjustments.

In addition to providing protection for disabled employees, the Equality Act 2010  prohibits discrimination because of or related to sex, whether directly, indirectly, or by harassment.  An example in the case of menopause could be where an employer does not consider symptoms arising from the menopause to be mitigating factors in reviewing performance, where similar symptoms due to another condition would be considered for male workers.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) also requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all workers.  In the case of menopausal women, this could include risk assessments that consider their specific needs, to make sure the working environment does not make symptoms worse, for example because of an over-heated or poorly ventilated office, and that welfare is supported through facilities such as toilets and access to water.

The EHRC guidance, which is available on its website, contains videos aimed at helping employers to understand these legal obligations; and how they can encourage workers to talk about their symptoms and request adjustments.

Aside from complying with legal obligations, providing appropriate help and support to menopausal women to reduce the negative impact of the menopause at work has much wider benefits. These can include reducing sickness absence; improving performance; and ensuring that valued, experienced employees don’t leave the business prematurely.

Employers wanting to do more to support workers going through the perimenopause or menopause can start by implementing a workplace policy which:

  • provides information explaining what the menopause is and how it can affect women;
  • seeks to break down taboos by encouraging open conversations in the workplace;
  • explains the importance of workplace risk assessments to support the health and well-being of women going through the menopause;
  • provides examples of specific support and adjustments for common symptoms to help guide managers and employees; and
  • provides guidance on what to do when an employee seeks help.

Training on the menopause and on the policy, particularly for managers, will be an important next step to ensure that the policy is properly and effectively implemented. Not only will the combination of a policy and training reduce the risk of claims but could help provide a defence in the event of a discrimination claim.

If you’d like help preparing a menopause policy or would like to find out about the training we can provide, please contact Marie Allen on 01473 298133 or by email at [email protected]

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