New guidance published for employers on menopause and the Equality Act

New guidance published for employers on menopause and the Equality Act

The Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK has published new guidance that highlights that employers can be sued for disability discrimination if they fail to make reasonable adjustments for menopausal women.

Many women report experiencing negative impacts of menopausal symptoms in the workplace, with some even feeling compelled to leave their jobs as a result.

Research shows that one in ten women surveyed who have worked during the menopause have left their jobs due to symptoms, while two-thirds 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. However, very few workers request workplace adjustments during this time, often citing concerns about potential reactions.

As the number of women experiencing menopause while in employment increases, it is essential that employers know how to support workers experiencing menopause symptoms. Not only does this ensure they meet their legal responsibilities, but also that women in this group are able to continue to contribute to the workplace and benefit from work.

The new guidance from the EHRC aims to clarify these legal obligations and provide practical tips for employers on making reasonable adjustments and fostering positive conversations about the menopause with their workers.  

Graham James, Director at Pluxee UK, said: “Perimenopause and menopause should not hinder employees’ career progression. Still, for 10% of menopausal women in work… they do. Therefore, the recognition of menopause as a workplace disability heralds an essential step in the right direction for equality and understanding in our workplaces. It sheds light on the challenges women face, specifically during the menopausal transition, which, unfortunately, has been sidelined for far too long. 

“The new guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission forces employers to reconsider policies and invest in making the corporate world more inclusive and supportive of the changes many women experience. It’s important to recognise that menopause isn’t a lifestyle choice, and some women suffer more severe symptoms than others. Providing a flexible policy to accommodate this is key. Organisations can also offer a dedicated Menopause Support Service as part of their EAP, and we’ve seen an overwhelmingly positive response from organisations that implemented it.

“It’s also important to remember that while menopause is a female-dominated topic, men also experience andropause, often called ‘male menopause’ – and it’s essential to bring attention to how this impacts them. While we must be mindful that andropause isn’t the same biological experience as menopause, it can still cause physical and emotional changes. Since men are less likely to seek support for mental health-related issues, removing the stigma and breaking down barriers around andropause is also vital.”

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