EHRC Sets Menopause Guidelines for Employers

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have released new guidelines regarding menopause in the workplace, outlining the legal responsibilities of employers under the Equality Act 2010.

The necessity for such guidance arises from reports of women facing adverse effects from menopausal symptoms at work, leading some to resign.

Research by the Fawcett Society indicates that 10% of women who were employed during the menopause left their jobs due to symptoms. 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 impact 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, and
  • 46% felt less physically able to carry out work tasks.

Despite the research that has been conducted in the field that shows how detrimental the lack of support for those experiencing menopausal symptoms is, a minimal number of employees seek adjustments at work, often due to fears of negative feedback. But this responsibility shouldn’t be on those suffering, but the employers who lack the support for employees.

With an increasing number of women experiencing menopause while employed, it's critical for employers to understand how to support employees that are experiencing symptoms of the menopause. This is vital not just for complying with legal obligations but also for ensuring that women can continue to make valuable contributions at work.

The EHRC's latest guidelines aim to demystify these legal duties and offer actionable advice for employers on implementing reasonable adjustments and encouraging open discussions about menopause in the workplace.

Menopause symptoms that significantly and persistently affect a woman's daily activities could be classified as a disability. In such cases, the Equality Act 2010 mandates employers to make necessary adjustments and prevent discrimination against these employees. Moreover, employees suffering from menopause symptoms could be safeguarded against discrimination based on age and sex.

Employers are urged to review the EHRC's guidance available on their website and revise their workplace policies and practices to promote fairness and inclusivity.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “As Britain’s equality watchdog, we are concerned both by how many women report being forced out of a role due to their menopause-related symptoms and how many don’t feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments.

“An employer understanding their legal duties is the foundation of equality in the workplace. But it is clear that many may not fully understand their responsibility to protect their staff going through the menopause. Our new guidance sets out these legal obligations for employers and provides advice on how they can best support their staff. 

“We hope that this guidance helps ensure every woman going through the menopause is treated fairly and can work in a supportive and safe environment.”