Women's health and menopause

‘I’m going through the menopause. Am I entitled to workplace reasonable adjustments?’

Scarlett Chamberlain
Scarlett Chamberlain is the CSP’s diversity engagement officer

The short answer is ‘potentially’. Menopause symptoms are significantly affecting most menopausal women, a recent Fawcett Society report has found. Common symptoms include: hot flushes, insomnia, anxiety, depression and brain fog.

The menopause is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – the main piece of equalities legislation in England, Wales & Scotland – nor expressly protected by the equalities legislation covering Northern Ireland.

However, women with menopausal symptoms could be defined as having a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act, where symptoms have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on day-to-day activities. The NHS advises that menopausal symptoms can last for around four years, with around one in 10 women experiencing symptoms for up to 12 years.

This means people experiencing the menopause might be able to request reasonable adjustments from their employer. 

The CSP has developed a resource hub which considers:

  • the types of reasonable adjustments employees can ask for
  • the process for agreeing them with their employer

Even where women’s symptoms are not protected under the Equality Act, employers need to ensure staff experiencing the menopause are not discriminated against due to their age or sex.

Non-binary, trans and intersex people can also experience the menopause, and likewise should not be discriminated against.

Employers must also comply with a range of relevant health and safety – for ensuring a comfortable workplace temperature.

With these obligations – and given that such a large proportion of health care workers are likely to experience the menopause during their career – organisations should be treating all impacted individuals sensitively and fairly if they want to be viewed as an employer of choice.

This could involve developing – with trade union representatives – specific menopause policies covering all staff. 

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