World Menopause Month

October is World Menopause Month, and as an employee who may be experiencing menopause, or who may experience menopause at some point during your life, it’s important that you understand your rights.  Below, Solicitor in our employment team, Rachal Frankland, helps break the stigma and ensures those experiencing the menopause understand what support is available to them.

What is the menopause?

Menopause is when menstruation stops, and the ovaries no longer release an egg every month due to lower hormone levels in the body. It typically effects women around the ages of 45 to 55 but it can also happen earlier. Many people who enter menopause do so during their working life and the symptoms that come with it can often be difficult to adjust to. The menopausal transition effects everyone uniquely and in different ways. For example, one person may experience severe symptoms whilst others only experience them mildly. It is important to know that your employer cannot discriminate against you or treat you any differently because you are experiencing menopause, and in some situations, they may be obliged to may certain accommodations to help you during this time.

What are the symptoms?

Some common symptoms of menopause include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion (also known as brain fog)
  • Changes in mood – such as low mood or irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in skin conditions, including dryness or increase in oiliness and onset of adult acne
  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of concentration

These symptoms can be experienced severely and can have a huge impact on day-to-day activities. For example, loss of sleep on its own can cause enough problems, so dealing with some or all the above symptoms can be incredibly disruptive and difficult to manage.

It can be an emotionally and psychically draining experience, especially when employees must continue to go to work every day. An employer has a statutory duty to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to reduce or remove any disadvantages that someone may experience because of the menopause. This is because menopausal symptoms can be classed as a disability and therefore, not making adjustments to suit their needs could be a form of discrimination.

Below we answer some questions from the perspective of an employee and then provide some top tips for employers on how they can best provide their support.

As an employee, where do I stand?

Menopause alone is not considered as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. However, because menopause is related to characteristics that are protected such as disability, age, and sex, menopause is protected by the law.


Menopausal symptoms can range from very mild to extremely severe depending on the individual. In those case where symptoms are having a significant impact on your ability to carry out day to day tasks, you may be classed as having a disability. If this is the case, your employer has a right to acknowledge this and consider making reasonable adjustments so that you are not at a disadvantage because of your symptoms. If your employer fails to do so, it is possible that they may be discriminating against you, and you may be eligible to make a claim.


Being treated less favourably than other employees due to menopausal symptoms can directly be linked with age discrimination, since menopause generally takes place after a certain age. It is also important to note that age discrimination can also happen in cases where employers or other colleagues make jokes about age in relation to menopause, and this can be the same too for any individuals who experience menopause early.


Discrimination can also be present in the form of sex. For example, if you suffer from a drop in your performance at work due to menopausal symptoms, you could claim gender discrimination if your symptoms are not taken as seriously as if a man had the same symptoms and they affected his performance at work.

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Can I take time off due to menopause?

It is possible that you may be signed off by your GP for symptoms caused by menopause (for example low mood, joint aches and pains, and insomnia). You may want to check your employer’s sickness policy to get more information on what you are entitled to. However, if your symptoms are severe enough to qualify as a disability, you are protected from disability discrimination and your employer may need to make reasonable adjustments for you. Some reasonable adjustments that your employer could make to account for your disability are:

  • Flexible working hours or the ability to work from home
  • Recording sickness due to menopause separately to regular sickness
  • Being more lenient regarding your performance or attendance e.g., giving you more time to improve

As an employer, how can I help support my employees?

In relation to the protection of menopausal women, the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) states that employers must ensure the health and safety of their employees. This includes both mentally and physically. There are some reasonable steps that you can take as an employer to ensure employees with menopause are safe and comfortable at work, whilst ensuring you have the right facilities in place to deal with any adversities.

It is common for employers to carry out a risk assessment and see what the organisation may be missing or could improve to account for menopausal symptoms. Effective adjustments can be simple, low cost and make a significant difference to how well someone with symptoms can function at work. Some examples include:

  • Finding ways to cool the working environment (fans, air conditioning, switching rooms)
  • Allowing more frequent breaks
  • Providing a relaxing space for employees to go when they feel they need to
  • Making changes to an employee’s tasks, workload, or duties
  • Giving employees more time to recover from poor performance
  • Treating menopausal absences separately to regular absences
  • Consideration of menopause at policy level
  • Providing an open space where people feel comfortable to talk about menopause
  • Flexibility with uniform if applicable
  • Flexible working hours

There are many ways that you can support your employees going through menopause, and each approach should be tailored to the individual since menopause transition can be completely different for everyone. Bringing awareness into your organisation and adopting the view that an employee with menopausal symptoms should be managed and supported in the same way you would manage and support someone with any long-term health condition. Speaking up and having policies in place to help reduce any disadvantages for those going through the menopause is what every employer needs to consider.

How can we help?

At Bromleys, we have vast amounts of experience dealing with discrimination claims within the workplace. If you feel as if you have been discriminated in relation to menopause, you can get in touch with us directly today and we can help guide you in the right direction. We also offer open and honest advice to employers and are on hand to support you when you need it.

You can call us on 0161 330 6821 or make an enquiry directly with our Employment & Dispute Resolution Team:

Rachael Frankland  0161 694 4155 or via email –

Mark Hirst  0161  331 3885 or via email –