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Understanding World Menopause Month: Legal responsibilities and best practices for employers

October marks World Menopause Month, a time for raising awareness about menopause and its impact on various aspects of life, including employment.

Menopause is a natural part of ageing that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.

As people are working later into their lives, employers must acknowledge the challenges faced by people undergoing this life transition and take appropriate measures to create an inclusive and supportive working environment.

What is menopause?

Menopause is a biological event usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55 when menstruation ceases.

The hormonal changes associated with menopause can lead to various symptoms like hot flushes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings, among others.

These symptoms can have an impact on a menopausal person’s ability to perform at work and can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or even discrimination.

Legal framework

There are several laws that can be applied to cases involving discrimination or harassment based on menopause, although there is no specific ‘menopause legislation’.

The Equality Act 2010, for example, protects against discrimination based on sex and age, both of which can be pertinent in menopause-related cases.

Furthermore, employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to provide a safe and healthy working environment for all employees.

Best practices for employers

  • Open dialogue: Encourage an open dialogue about menopause in the workplace, so employees feel comfortable discussing any issues they may be facing. Managers should be trained to handle these conversations sensitively.
  • Flexible working hours: Consider offering flexible working hours or remote work options to employees who are dealing with menopausal symptoms.
  • Risk assessments: Carry out workplace risk assessments to identify any specific issues that might exacerbate menopausal symptoms, such as poor ventilation that could make hot flushes worse.
  • Policy implementation: Implement a specific menopause policy to guide both management and staff on how to address related issues respectfully and effectively.

Recognising the impact of menopause on the workforce is not merely about compliance with existing laws; it’s also about creating a culture of inclusivity and understanding.

World Menopause Month serves as a reminder to evaluate workplace policies and educate both employers and employees on this crucial issue.

By taking proactive steps, organisations can not only safeguard against potential legal complications but also improve the well-being and productivity of their employees.

To find out more information about discrimination in the workplace and how you can prevent it, get in touch today.

Amanda Hyam

Senior Associate – Dispute Resolution / Employment

I have specialised in Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation and Employment law for more than 15 years.  I understand how daunting the prospect of litigation can be and because of this I am always available to discuss concerns.