Updated Feb 28, 2024

Log in →

"Reasonable adjustments" for workers going through menopause

Under new guidance issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), employers could be sued for disability discrimination if they fail to make "reasonable adjustments" for women going through menopause, amid concern over the number of women leaving their jobs due to symptoms.

Menopause is a natural part of ageing which occurs when periods stop due to a lowering in hormone levels, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. The menopause can also happen because of a variety of reasons, including genetics, surgery, cancer treatments, or other unknown reasons.

The EHRC say that if menopause symptoms have a long term and substantial impact on a woman's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities they may be considered a disability.

Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments and to not discriminate against workers.

They will also be under a legal obligation to not directly or indirectly discriminate because of the disability or subject the woman to discrimination arising from disability.

Women experiencing menopause symptoms may also be protected from direct and indirect discrimination, as well as harassment and victimisation, on the grounds of age and sex.

The guidance also states that workers experiencing symptoms may be protected against less favourable treatment related to their menopause symptoms on the grounds of age and sex.

Research by the Fawcett Society found that one in 10 women surveyed who had worked during menopause had left their role due to symptoms that can include:

  • anxiety;
  • mood swings;
  • brain fog;
  • hot flushes; and
  • irregular periods.

A study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that two-thirds (67%) of working women between the ages of 40 and 60 with experience of menopausal symptoms said they have had a mostly negative impact on their work life.

Of those who were negatively affected at work:

  • 79% said they were less able to concentrate;
  • 68% said they experience more stress;
  • 49% said they felt less patient with clients and colleagues; and
  • 46% felt less physically able to carry out work tasks.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chair of the EHCR, said: "As Britain’s equality watchdog, we are concerned both by how many women report being forced out of a role due to their menopause-related symptoms and how many don’t feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments".

"An employer understanding their legal duties is the foundation of equality in the workplace. But it is clear that many may not fully understand their responsibility to protect their staff going through the menopause. Our new guidance sets out these legal obligations for employers and provides advice on how they can best support their staff".

"We hope that this guidance helps ensure every woman going through the menopause is treated fairly and can work in a supportive and safe environment".

For more information on this subject, see:

View all stories