New Menopause Guidance for Employers

    menopause at work guidance

    IN THIS ARTICLE

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new menopause guidelines for employers, setting out possible support options and the consequences for employers failing to meet their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

    The new guidelines have been designed to help employers create supportive and inclusive workplaces for women experiencing menopause symptoms, while ensuring workers’ rights are protected and their well-being promoted in the workplace.

     

    What does the new guidance say?

    The guidelines offer practical advice for employers across areas such as making reasonable adjustments and fostering positive conversations about menopause:

     

    Menopause as a disability

    The guidelines recognise that menopause symptoms can in some cases be severe enough to qualify as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. This means employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for affected employees.

     

    Reasonable adjustments

    The guidelines emphasise individual needs and encourage open communication between employees and employers to determine suitable adjustments. Examples of adjustments could include:

    • Providing flexible working arrangements such as flexibility of location and varying shift patterns
    • Providing rest areas and quiet rooms
    • Introducing temperature control measures such as cooling systems or fans for women experiencing hot flushes
    • Relaxing uniform policies
    • Providing cooler clothing

     

    Training and support

    Employers are encouraged to train managers and staff on menopause awareness, promoting understanding and empathy. Resources and support mechanisms should be readily available for women experiencing menopause symptoms.

     

    Legal compliance

    Failure to comply with these guidelines could lead to legal action, including discrimination claims and financial penalties.

     

    Employer obligations in relation to menopause

    The Equality Act 2010 protects workers from unlawful direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of protected characteristics including disability, age and sex.

    Under current laws, the menopause itself is not protected under the Equality Act as a disability. However, the new guidelines clarify that when menopause symptoms can be shown to have a long-term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, they could be considered a qualifying disability under the Equality Act. This then places a legal duty on the employer to make reasonable adjustments.

    Employers must also ensure they meet their obligations under health and safety legislation to conduct an assessment of their workplace risks.

     

    Best practice guidance for employers

    The new menopause guidelines mark a significant step towards creating a fairer and more inclusive workplace for women experiencing menopause. By understanding their legal obligations, implementing recommended support measures, and fostering open communication, employers can navigate this change effectively and contribute to a better working environment for all through measures such as:

    • Policy development: Creating a comprehensive menopause policy outlining support measures, escalation procedures, and training plans is crucial.
    • Open communication: Fostering open communication and encouraging dialogue about menopause is key to identifying needs and ensuring effective support. Collaboration between employers, employee groups, and policymakers can drive positive change in workplace culture and policies.
    • Being proactive: Employers should move beyond reactive case-by-case management and adopt a proactive approach to supporting menopausal employees.
    • Positive impact: Implementing these guidelines can not only improve employee well-being and reduce legal risks but also enhance productivity and employee loyalty.

     

    Legal disclaimer

    The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

    Author

    Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

    Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing & Content Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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