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Sarah Everton from Employment Law team

Sarah Everton

Head of Employment Law

01782 525012 sarah.everton@myerssolicitors.co.uk

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World Menopause Month

20th October 2023

World Menopause Month

October is World Menopause Month, and Myers & Co believe it is important to raise awareness about the stigma that can be associated with the menopause and how severe symptoms can be. Sarah Everton, Head of Employment Law, provides further information on what support options are available for those experiencing it.

With the list of symptoms that come with menopause, it is no surprise that most women find it difficult to go about their daily activities as normal. Some common symptoms of the menopause include:

Everyone can experience the menopause differently and symptoms can vary, but they can have a huge impact on many different aspects of life. These aspects can include relationships, social life, family life and work. To provide support, employers should make sure they have certain steps and procedures to help employees affected by the menopause.

Although the menopause isn’t specifically protected under the Equality Act 2010, employees can be protected under other protected characteristics, such as disability, sex, or age. Most discrimination claims for menopause are made on the basis that the symptoms can be considered a disability. Age discrimination claims can also be made as the menopause is usually related to the age of the individual.

However, it is important for employers to remember that menopause can also affect younger people due to medical or early menopause. Therefore, age discrimination and harassment can also apply to younger individuals, for example if somebody makes a joke about early menopause.

Speak to one of our legal experts regarding a discrimination claim.

What can employers do to support employees going through menopause?

Employers need to treat the menopause as a medical condition and avoid any unfavourable treatment towards these employees as a result. This includes making reasonable adjustments to account for the disability, whether this be reviewing usual policies on sickness absence and performance or adjusting physical features of the workplace. For example, some sickness policies can result in formal warnings if an employee is off sick for certain periods of time. This policy may need adjusting to take into account the symptoms of menopause.

Flexibility in and out of the workplace

One of the most common symptoms of menopause is hot flushes, meaning that some adjustments may need to be made for employees working in the office, such as providing an air-conditioned room for them to work in or providing a desk fan. Flexible working should also be considered as it may even be necessary for employees to leave the workplace if they suddenly feel unwell or take more breaks during the day.

Multiple areas of support

Some women may not feel comfortable seeking support from their line manager, possibly even more so if they are male. It may also be that the topic is difficult to raise for those employees who are transgender, intersex or non-binary. Therefore, employers should make it clear and provide multiple channels for employees seeking support as a result of menopause.

Health and safety

It is important to consider the working environment for employees going through menopause and ensure that their symptoms are not made worse by being at work. These risk assessments should also address welfare issues such as toilet facilities and access to drinking cold water. Employers already have an duty to provide these facilities under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Where do I stand if I am an employee?

There are two main areas of law that relate to menopause:

Although menopause isn’t specifically a ‘protected characteristic’, you are still protected from being discriminated against because of your:

Age

You cannot be directly discriminated against or treated unfavourably in the workplace because of your age. Menopause is not always, but in most cases is related to age.

Sex

An employer must not treat women less favourably than men in the workplace. If there are policies within the organisations that are harder for a woman dealing with menopausal symptoms to meet (e.g. certain days worked in the office compared to at home), and an employer treats a person less favourably because of it, this can be classed as discrimination.

Disability

For some people going through menopause, the symptoms can be extremely severe and debilitating, and therefore defined as a disability. Employers should be making reasonable adjustments to avoid people being at a disadvantage because of the symptoms. If this is not being done, this can be classed as disability discrimination.

Call us today and speak with one of our solicitors.

How can Myers & Co help?

Myers & Co have a team of solicitors who have a vast amount of knowledge when it comes to discrimination in employment law. If you believe you may be eligible to make a claim, our experts are on hand ready to provide you with the advice and support that you may need. If you have any further questions as an employee, or wish to learn more about how you can support your employees from an employers perspective, you can call us today on 01782 577000, or email me directly at sarah.everton@myerssolicitors.co.uk.

Struggling with menopause?

If you find yourself struggling to deal with the physical and mental symptoms of menopause, there are places which can provide support when you need it most. You can find more information on this at Menopause Support and The Menopause Charity. It is important to remember you are not alone and there is always someone available to help.