Do You Need a Menopause Policy for Your Workplace?

In February 2024, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published guidance for employers about interpreting their legal obligations to menopausal women under the Equality Act 2010. How should their findings impact your workplace policies?

What's the current legal situation?

Under the EqA Q10, the EHRC found that workers experiencing extreme menopausal symptoms may be protected from discrimination, harassment, and victimisation on the grounds of disability, age, and sex.

This idea has not yet been fully tested in the courts. Still, the EHRC is currently supporting an employment tribunal case involving alleged menopause discrimination, which could set an important legal precedent. 

The publication of their guidance in February is intended to help employers prepare for an increasing legal focus on the treatment of menopausal women in the workplace.

What’s in the EHRC menopause guidance?

  • The EHRC  found 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. In such cases, employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments.

  • They highlighted an employer's obligation to conduct a workplace risk assessment that takes into account the effects of menopause under health and safety law.

  • The EHRC encouraged employers to have menopause policies in place, provide training for managers, and foster open conversations about menopause to support affected workers.

The media reaction to the EHRC findings

The publication of this advice caused a flurry of media articles to appear.

Inevitably, much of the coverage dwelt on the idea that employers could face legal action by women who felt discriminated against on the basis of their disabling menopausal symptoms.

This possibility provoked a backlash in the media, with one comment piece by Anna Van Praagh in the Evening Standard concluding that legislating in this way would only make employers more reluctant to employ women in certain age groups. Particularly, as she argued, the majority of women have a relatively manageable menopause.

The EHRC guidance is a call to protect - not a license to sue

However, these reactions, while predictable, miss the point of the EHRC guidance. The guidance points out that it's those women who are suffering ‘substantial impact’ and are not being accommodated by their bosses who may need recourse to the law. 

Their overarching advice is to encourage businesses to start conversations about menopause, create better workplace wellbeing policies and make adjustments to prevent legal action from becoming necessary in the first place.

Why women's wellbeing in the workplace is taking centre stage

With women ascending to more leadership roles and their specific skill sets and experience being recognised as particularly valuable to business, it’s in the interests of companies to create workplaces that support women's well-being across their entire career span.

  • Nearly 5 million women aged 50-64 are currently employed in the UK. They represent the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. (source Wellbeing of Women)

  • According to the World Bank, women-owned firms in the US are growing at more than double the rate of all other firms and contributing almost $3 trillion to the economy.


  • One in ten women surveyed who were employed during the menopause left work due to menopause symptoms. (source: The Fawcett Society)

Calls for workplace support for menopause have gone mainstream

Given all this, and despite the outsized voice of reactionary newspaper columnists, calls to give more formal support to women in the workplace around menopause have become louder and more mainstream.

2,700 employers across the UK including AstraZeneca, the BBC, Royal Mail, Co-op, and TSB have already signed the Menopause Workplace Pledge - a series of undertakings to provide more menopause-friendly workplaces.

But there’s a long way to go yet.

What does a menopause-friendly workplace policy look like?

Research says that employers can still be better allies to women - providing ongoing support for those going through the stresses of this life-stage while taking bigger steps to protect those profoundly affected by their symptoms.

With this in mind, every business should consider implementing a menopause policy. This is not just about formalising employment protections but taking practical measures to improve working conditions and culture.


5 ideas for inclusion in your workplace menopause policy

1. Formalise  information and training for employees and managers

Educate your workforce about the needs of menopausal and perimenopausal women and the realities of their experiences. Starting a conversation and educating colleagues can create a more supportive and understanding environment where it's easier for us all to work together.

2. Undertake to increase choice within working environments 

Create workstations where employees have more individual control over noise, temperature, ventilation and lighting. Providing a selection of seating options, including window seats, air-conditioned pods, screened areas for greater privacy and sound insulation, can offer respite from hot flashes and hectic workspaces.

3. Promote flexible work arrangements 

Implement flexible working policies to accommodate the unique needs of menopausal employees. Options like remote work, flexible schedules, or adjusted start times can mitigate challenges related to fatigue, temperature sensitivity, and restroom access, leading to a more supportive and productive work environment.

4. Enhance health and wellness benefits 

Expand health and wellness programs to specifically include menopause-related support services. This could involve access to medical professionals who specialise in menopause, coverage for treatments such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), and wellness initiatives aimed at alleviating symptoms. By recognising menopause as a significant health issue, employers can help employees manage symptoms effectively, reducing discomfort and stress.

5. Establish support networks and resources 

Create internal support groups and resource hubs for menopausal employees. This could include online forums, dedicated support personnel, informational resources, and regular workshops or seminars on menopause wellness. Such networks provide valuable support and information and help normalise conversations about menopause in the workplace.

Employers can play a key and important role in helping women to manage their health and wellbeing at this stage in life. By doing so, organisations can help to ensure a gender-equal working environment, support women to reach their potential and benefit from the enormous expertise and experience that they contribute to the workplace.

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Wellbeing of Women Chair

Where to go from here

Check out Insightful Environment's guide to designing a menopause-friendly workplace and look at the EHRC's own case study videos, showing how you can implement practical measures that make a real difference.

Whether it's providing flexible working arrangements, adapting workplace conditions, or ensuring more access to health and well-being resources, these measures can form the bedrock of a policy that improves women's working lives and prevents attrition for business.

By proactively addressing the needs of employees going through the menopause and perimenopause, your business can lead the way in creating a supportive and inclusive environment that is better for everyone.

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