Wellbeing

Supporting Menopausal Employees and Avoiding Legal Risk

Darryl Horn, Thursday, 22 February 2024 • 3 min read

Guidance for Employers
Supporting Menopausal Employees and Avoiding Legal Risk

The recent announcement from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) clarifying the legal obligations surrounding menopause in the workplace has sparked important conversations.

This article aims to inform employers about the new guidance and provide actionable steps to create a supportive environment for menopausal employees, minimising legal risk.

Understanding the EHRC Guidance:

Menopause as a Disability: The EHRC clarifies that menopause itself is not a disability, but its symptoms can meet the legal definition of disability, particularly if they have a significant and long-term negative impact on an employee's daily life and ability to work.

Reasonable Adjustments: Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a legal duty to make "reasonable adjustments" for employees with disabilities. This includes supporting employees experiencing menopausal symptoms which significantly impact their work.

Examples of Adjustments: Reasonable adjustments can vary depending on individual needs and could include flexible working arrangements, access to temperature control, breaks for hot flushes, or modified duties.

Taking Action:

Develop a Menopause Policy: Having a clear and accessible policy demonstrates your commitment to supporting menopausal employees. Outline the complaint procedure and how to request adjustments.

Raise Awareness and Build Understanding: Educate managers and employees about menopause, its symptoms, and the impact it can have on individuals. Encourage open communication and dispel myths.

Train Managers on Supporting Menopausal Employees: Equip managers with the knowledge and skills to identify signs of potential issues, have sensitive conversations, and understand their legal obligations.

Offer Flexible Working Arrangements: Consider flexible working options like remote work, adjusted hours, or shorter shifts to accommodate individual needs and manage symptoms.

Provide Access to Resources: Share information about menopause support organizations, healthcare options, and self-management strategies.

Confidentiality and Respect: Ensure confidentiality and respect for all employees experiencing menopause. Avoid discriminatory language or assumptions.

Benefits of Supporting Menopausal Employees:

Improved Retention and Morale: Creating a supportive environment can reduce presenteeism, absenteeism, and turnover, leading to a more stable and productive workforce.

Enhanced Talent Recruitment and Diversity: Promoting inclusivity attracts and retains a wider pool of talent, fostering a diverse and dynamic workplace.

Reduced Legal Risk: Proactive measures minimise the risk of discrimination claims and associated legal costs.

By understanding the EHRC guidance and taking meaningful action, employers can create a supportive work environment for menopausal employees, maximising their well-being, productivity, and talent retention, while minimising legal risks. Remember, open communication, education, and proactive support are key to navigating this important issue effectively.

This article was first published on 22/2/24.

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About the author

Darryl

Darryl is a Chartered CIPD Member, business leader and operational manager with 30 years experience in on-the-ground and strategic HR, specialising in Human Resources Management, Employment Law, Employee Relations and Learning & Development.

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