Shiva Shadi

It’s No Longer a Taboo Subject

Menopause in the workplace is no longer a taboo subject even though many women still feel uncomfortable bringing up the subject or how it is affecting them on a daily basis in the workplace.

Despite much wider exposure of the topic on social media platforms and the media in general and even a prominent feature in The Times, some individuals including women are still not aware of the symptoms and the difficulties they pose for women who experience them.

There is a real need for employers to be aware of the symptoms, the difficulties, and how they should be assisting menopausal employees.

There are over 60 symptoms and these can range from but are not limited to fatigue, brain fog, migraines, hot flushes, inability to sleep at night, as well as anxiety and depression. Such symptoms can be severe enough to impact the individual in the workplace, with employees losing their confidence in themselves, confidence in their ability to fulfil their role or just struggling to manage their symptoms in a workplace that might not be sympathetic or closed off to needs that they may have.

If employees are not supported, they may feel that they have no choice but to resign from their positions or may even be pushed out by unsympathetic employers. Given that, according to the July 2023 ONS, there are 4.6 million economically active women aged 50-64, this could cause significant issues for employers the least costly of which would be leaving them potentially understaffed or losing staff that are key and experienced.

women in the workplace and feeling comfortable with each other


The more costly consequences for employers could result from claims pursued by women in the Employment Tribunals. Although menopause itself is not specifically protected under the Equality Act 2010, due to the nature of the menopause and whom it affects, female employees could potentially, if treated unfairly, make a claim under the protected characteristics of gender, age and disability. Whilst menopause itself is not a disability the symptoms may amount to a disability.

Latest Case Law

In the case of Rooney v Leicester City Council the claimant had experienced severe menopausal symptoms over a period of at least two years including insomnia, depression and anxiety among a number of other symptoms.  Initially, the Employment Tribunal (ET) determined that the claimant’s symptoms did not amount to a disability. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found the ET erred in law that the claimant was not disabled and erred in law by striking out her discrimination claims. Therefore, making it clear that menopausal symptoms could meet the legal definition of disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.

Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 provides that a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities with “substantial” meaning more than minor or trivial.

The case was remitted by to the Employment Tribunal and is reported to have been listed for 16 days to be reheard.

There are other potential claims including discrimination arising from disability, failure to make reasonable adjustments as well as harassment which results from unwanted conduct which violates a person’s dignity and humiliates them.

So what should an Employer do?

Part of being inclusive and diverse must include steps to support those being affected by symptoms of menopause and ensuring consideration is given to them in respect of all internal procedures.

As an employer, your priority to your employees should include (as clearly set out in Health and Safety legislation) their health and general wellbeing.

Having an effective policy in place ensures that organisations raise awareness and that their management look at individuals on a case by case basis to determine whether an individual’s circumstances amount to a protected characteristic and even if not, allows them the opportunity to see if steps can be taken to alleviate a difficulty an individual is having.

Such steps can be as simple as monitoring the temperature in the area where they work or allowing them to have a desk fan, considerations as to their work uniforms or flexible working arrangements

Having a policy also highlights to employees that an organisation is open to being approached about the subject and therefore removing some of the anxiety for an employee to raise it.

If you would like further guidance on menopause in the workplace or wish to introduce a Menopause Policy, please do not hesitate to contact Shiva Shadi, Head of the Employment Department on 0161 832 3304.

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