Website Cookie Policy

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. If you continue, we’ll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website.
See our cookie policy for more information.

Practice Areas

More Information

thepartners@wrigleys.co.uk

Leeds: 0113 244 6100

Sheffield: 0114 267 5588

FOLLOW WRIGLEYS:

Send us an enquiry
Close

EHRC releases menopause in the workplace guidance for employers

28 February 2024

Guidance is latest in line of efforts to raise awareness of the impact of the menopause at work.

Published on 22 February 2024, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance on menopause in the workplace aims to help inform employers of their legal obligations when supporting staff experiencing the menopause.

Broken down into easy to navigate sections, the guidance outlines what menopause and perimenopause is and how the symptoms associated with it can impact on staff in the work environment, including on concentration, stress levels and physical fitness.  Starkly, the guidance also links to surveys showing that one in ten women of those surveyed left work due to the menopause.

Legal obligations

The guidance summarises the legal obligations employers owe to staff under the Equality Act 2010 (EQA), noting in particular the protected characteristics of disability, age and sex and the obligation on employers to make reasonable adjustments, and the risks these pose in relation to direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.

The guidance also includes videos explaining how staff experiencing menopause symptoms may be protected under the EQA, along with examples of adjustments to support workers. This includes practical considerations such as how employers should consider dealing with menopause-related absence differently to other absences and the discrimination and harassment risks associated with taking action (e.g. disciplinary) for menopause-related absence or otherwise commenting on it.

Staff engagement

The guidance makes considerable effort to encourage dialogue between employers and staff to include all workers and not just management. The guidance promotes this as a way to encourage an open culture where staff feel able to talk about their symptoms and where greater awareness of these issues can be raised through training and opportunities for workers to discuss their experiences as well as have access to resources signposting them to support.

Comment

This guidance from the EHRC is the latest in a series of reports and guidance. See our article Menopause: new guidance for employers for our coverage of 2019 ACAS guidance on the subject, as well as Is the menopause a disability under the Equality Act 2010? for coverage of case law on menopause and the EQA.

The guidance from the EHRC presents as a way of raising the profile of this issue with employers and informing them of how this interacts with the concepts of discrimination and harassment at work, without getting too much into the detail.

One notable aspect of the coverage of this guidance is the EHRC’s characterisation of the menopause as a potential ‘disability’ under the EQA (note the guidance highlights the obligation to make reasonable adjustments which is an obligation an employer owes only in regard to the protected characteristic of a disability).

Perhaps for understandable reasons this has caused a degree unhappiness among some commentators who appear to baulk at the idea that the menopause – which is a natural occurrence for anyone who has periods – should be described as a ‘disability’. However, strictly speaking under the EQA a ‘disability’ is any physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on someone’s ability to do normal daily activities. The menopause is capable of fitting this definition and it is not excluded automatically by the Act as a condition that is capable of being a disability (like hayfever is, for example). It should also be noted that past guidance, such as that provided by ACAS as mentioned above, has already set out how the menopause may meet the definition of disability, albeit less prominently than the EHRC guidance has.

This criticism of the guidance should also be seen in the context of calls by the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee for the menopause to be classed as a protected characteristic in the EQA to afford menopausal women protection against discrimination. While the EHRC guidance makes employers aware of the potential protection under the EQA for those going through the menopause, it does not change or extend current legislative protections. That protection does not extend to everyone who can medically show they are menopausal, but does  apply to those whose menopausal symptoms have a significant adverse impact on their day to day activities such that they meet the definition of ‘disability’ under the EQA.

How Wrigleys can help

The employment team at Wrigleys is expert in advising charities, third sector and education sector clients on employment tribunal claims, including those relating to holiday leave and pay.

We also have extensive experience in helping employers to review and update contracts and policies so they are compliant with current law and best practice. We offer timely, pragmatic advice to reduce the risk of conflict and complaints. We also regularly assist with the defence and resolution of employment tribunal claims.

Importantly, we work within the wider charities, social economy, and education teams at Wrigleys and so we also have in-depth understanding of how our clients’ governance and regulatory obligations impact on employment litigation risks. Our CSE team can further help to minimise your risks by providing advice on charity law, trustee and director duties and delegation of powers, reporting to the regulator, and reputational risk.

 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Michael Crowther or any of the employment team on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys employment team on X.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. The law stated is correct at the date (stated above) this article was first posted to our website. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors.

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
Michael Crowther View Biography

Michael Crowther

Associate
Leeds

03 Jul 2024

Wrigleys Solicitors unveils latest partner promotions

Yorkshire-based legal specialist Wrigleys Solicitors has promoted two solicitors to partner as key departments continue to grow.

02 Jul 2024

Lune Valley Community Land Trust – a sustainable, community-led, affordable housing project

Having helped Lune Valley CLT to purchase a site for their proposed housing development, we went along to take a look at the results…

28 Jun 2024

Freedom of speech and the unique nature of students’ unions

We examine some of the distinctive features of students’ unions which cause problems with the new freedom of speech legislation.