Menopause guidance for employers

On 22nd February 2024, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published employer guidance on menopause in the workplace.

The guidance explains:

Menopause and perimenopause

Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop owing to lower hormone levels. It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but can be earlier or later. It can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Naturally
  • Genetics
  • Surgery
  • Cancer treatments

Sometimes the reason is unknown.

Perimenopause is when a woman has symptoms of menopause, but periods have not stopped.

The menopause can cause a range of both physical and psychological symptoms. You can find more information on the range of symptoms here.

Impact at work

Menopause symptoms can have a significant impact on women at work.  Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that two thirds (67%) of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 with experience of menopausal symptoms said they have had a mostly negative effect on them at work.

Of those who were negatively affected at work:

  • 79% said they were less able to concentrate.
  • 68% said they experienced more stress.
  • Nearly half (49%) said they felt less patient with clients and colleagues.
  • 46% felt less physically able to do work tasks.

The guidance includes three videos:

1 How a worker experiencing menopause symptoms may be protected under the Equality Act 2020 (‘EqA 2010’)

If menopause symptoms have a long-term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to do normal day-to-day activities, these symptoms could be considered a disability. Under the EqA 2010, workers are protected from discrimination, harassment, and victimisation arising from disability, sex and age. Employers will be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments and must not discriminate against the worker.

2 Examples of adjustments to support workers

The second video suggests that these may include:

Changes to the physical work environment

  • Room temperature.
  • Ventilation.
  • Provide rest areas.
  • Cooling systems.
  • Relaxed uniform policies.

Promoting flexibility

  • Allowing working from home.
  • Changing shift patterns.
  • Varying start and finish times.

It also suggests that menopause-related absence should be recorded separately from other absences and not using language that ridicules a worker’s menopause symptoms, owing to the risk of harassment.

3 Conversations about the menopause

The third video advocates for open conversations about the menopause, involving all workers and not just managers. This will encourage an open culture where workers can discuss their symptoms and request workplace adjustments. It suggests:

  • Training.
  • Lunch and learn sessions.
  • Regular reminders of the support available to workers.
  • Confidential meetings with managers to discuss any issues.
  • A menopause policy to outline the support available and provide guidance.

Sources: EHRC: Menopause in the workplace: Guidance for employers (22 February 2024).