It is essential that employers create a supportive environment for employees as research suggests that around 1 in 4 women in the workplace suffer from the effects of menopause.
According to research by BUPA in 2019, it is estimated that around 900,000 employees left their jobs due to menopausal symptoms. It is estimated that 14 million days are lost every year in the UK as a result of time taken off work due to menopausal symptoms.
The number of menopausal Tribunal cases is expected to double next year, according to further recent research.
Therefore it is important that employers are aware of the potential impact the menopause has on the workforce and, take steps to support their employees’ health during the menopause.
Is menopause a disability for the purposes of a discrimination claim?
Under the Equality Act 2010, a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Menopause itself is not automatically considered a disability. However, the symptoms caused by menopause can be both physical and psychological, can vary in their severity, and can ultimately also have a significant impact on day-to-day activities and ability to perform as usual in the workplace. To this extent, menopause can amount to a disability, so care needs to be taken. Employers should make appropriate adjustments to support their employees.
This was confirmed in the 2018 case of Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service where Mrs Davies was deemed to be disabled because of her transition symptoms.
It is also possible for menopause-related discrimination to occur in other contexts, such as:
Therefore, care must be taken and support needs to be provided by employers in their approach to menopause in the workplace and the impact it can have on employees, an impact that is being increasingly recognised by the tribunals.
Positive steps that can be taken by an employer
The Government recently outlined action it intends to take to address menopause issues within the workplace. This included proactively recommending employers consider offering flexible working options to menopausal employees and also encouraging them to introduce policies detailing their approach to tackling menopause-related workplace issues. This highlights the increasing need to carefully consider menopause within the workplace.
Given the complex nature of employment law and the need to ensure all workforce issues are equally considered, it is important to take legal advice from specialist lawyers. Our Employment Team at Lupton Fawcett LLP are a multi-awarded team which can give specialist advice on any employment matter affecting you or your business. If you would like some advice on any issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of our team who will be able to advise you.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.