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Menopause: New guidance published to help employers understand their obligations to women

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new guidance to help employers understand what their legal obligations are to support staff experiencing menopausal symptoms.

This guidance is much needed in the context of recent CIPD research which confirms the scale of menopause as a workplace issue. Namely, that: 

  • two thirds of working women between the ages of 40 to 60 have experienced menopausal symptoms which have negatively impacted on them at work; and 
  • around one in six women have considered leaving work due to a lack of support in relation to their menopause symptoms and a further 6% did leave.

Women experiencing menopause are often at the peak of their careers or in managerial positions. Failing to provide the right support can leave real gaps which employers will then have to fill.

The guidance does not create any new legal obligations, rather it clarifies and confirms employers’ existing obligations under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) and health and safety legislation that:

  • Menopause and peri-menopause symptoms can qualify as a “disability” under the EqA if they have a substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out her normal day-to-day activities and are long term (i.e. has lasted 12 months or is likely to last 12 months). If so, an employer is under a legal duty to consider and make reasonable adjustments and must not discriminate against the woman on the grounds of her disability.
  • Women experiencing menopause and peri-menopause symptoms are also protected from discrimination on the grounds of age and sex.
  • Employers must carry out a risk assessment of their workplace risks to ensure that menopause and peri-menopause symptoms are not made worse by the workplace and make any necessary adjustments.

The guidance provides examples of the types of workplace adjustments that might be appropriate to avoid discrimination. This includes:

  • considering how the physical working environment (e.g. room temperature) may affect women.
  • providing rest areas or quiet rooms, as well as fans for women experiencing hot flushes.
  • relaxing uniform policies or allowing women to wear cooler clothing.
  • promoting flexible working (e.g. adjusting start times or allowing employees to work from home, where appropriate). This may be particularly helpful on warm days or when the employee might have had a bad night's sleep.
  • recording menopause-related absences separately from other absences (particularly where symptoms are likely to meet the test for “disability", as above)
  • making adjustments to performance management processes where poor performance is related to menopausal symptoms (again, particularly where disability is an issue).

Although the guidance is a useful starting point, it’s important to remember that appropriate support will depend on the individual circumstances: menopause and peri-menopause can affect women differently (both physically and psychologically). 

Having open conversations with employees and understanding their individual needs is critical – to both attract and retain female talent and to avoid costly discrimination claims.  

Echoing the tips shared in the guidance, we’d recommend: 

  1. Appointing a menopause champion who can facilitate discussions and offer support.
  2. Having a menopause policy that sets out support and possible adjustments and how employees can ask for these (see below for details on how to obtain a copy of our free menopause policy).
  3. Providing menopause training to managers.
  4. Taking legal advice on tricky issues.


We have a number of free resources designed to help organisations support staff experiencing menopause, including our free menopause guides for both employees and employers. Our employer guide also contains a free menopause policy.

Please click here for more information on these resources.

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