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Employment Alert - Menopause in the Workplace – EHRC Guidance

Dictionary definition of menopause

What’s happening?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published guidance for employers on menopause in the workplace. It explains the different types of menopause, their impacts, summarises employers’ legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and suggests a series of practical adjustments to support workers.

Why is this important?

Research shows that two thirds of working women between age 40 and 60 have experienced a mostly negative impact of menopausal symptoms at work. As a result of menopausal symptoms, 1 in 10 women leave employment. There is therefore a clear incentive for employers to support employees who are affected by this.

From a legal perspective, whilst menopause itself is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, employers risk claims of age and sex discrimination given that menopause is linked to these characteristics. In addition, if menopause has a long term and substantial impact on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities it could amount to a disability which places a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments. Given the extent of both the symptoms and impact of the menopause, we believe this is a high risk area.

The EHRC guidance suggests employers consider the following adjustments:

  • Changing the room environment through temperature and ventilation;
  • Providing rest areas and fans;
  • Relaxing uniform policies, considering material choice and ensuring sufficient changes of uniform are provided;
  • Enabling flexible working (including home-working where it is particularly hot); and
  • Recording menopause-related absences separately.

The EHRC guidance also promotes informal and open conversations between all workers (rather than just managers) and training to raise menopause awareness and help employees to support colleagues.

The EHRC guidance is a good start for employers looking to introduce menopause awareness practices into their workplace. However, employers should ensure that any measures put in place are tailored to their staff and workplace.

What should you do?

Policy: Consider producing a menopause policy for your workplace. Our team can help with this, drafting a practical and useful policy which will make a real difference to your staff.

Training: Awareness and management training is key. Our Employment Team offer general awareness training for all staff as well as combined menopause awareness and management training which takes an in-depth look at your legal obligations and gives practical guidance on making reasonable adjustments.

Start Talking: Having open conversations and removing the stigma around menopause is a crucial step to becoming a menopause-friendly employer. Consider appointing a menopause workplace champion or starting informal lunch-and-learn sessions to boost awareness amongst colleagues.

If you would like to talk to our expert Employment team, please please call us on 0800 2800 421 or contact us using the form below.

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