The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued guidance emphasising that menopause symptoms can be deemed a disability, placing the onus on employers to make “reasonable adjustments” or face potential legal action.

The guidance from EHRC comes in response to the prevalent issue of menopausal women facing challenges at the workplace, with two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 60 reportedly experiencing menopausal symptoms while on the job.

These symptoms, which include hot flushes, brain fog, and difficulty sleeping, can have a significant impact on women’s daily activities.

Under the Equality Act 2010, failing to make reasonable adjustments that address the “long-term and substantial impact” of menopausal symptoms on an employee’s ability to carry out their usual tasks amounts to disability discrimination, according to EHRC.

The recommended adjustments include offering rest areas, flexible working hours, and relaxing uniform policies to accommodate cooler clothing choices. The EHRC stresses that the failure to implement these changes could result in legal consequences, as the costs incurred in defending a claim and the loss of talent can be substantial.

Women quit due to symptoms

Research cited by EHRC indicates that one in 10 women surveyed left their jobs due to menopause-related symptoms. The watchdog highlights that two-thirds of women experiencing these symptoms at work had a negative impact, yet very few sought adjustments, fearing potential repercussions.

Disciplinary action against women for menopause-related absences is cautioned against by EHRC, as it could amount to discrimination. Additionally, the guidance emphasises that language ridiculing someone’s symptoms could constitute harassment.

EHRC Chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner expressed concern over the number of women leaving roles due to menopause-related symptoms and emphasised that employers might not fully comprehend their responsibility to protect staff undergoing menopause.

Notably, women’s health campaigner and author Kate Muir expressed a different perspective, stating that menopause should not be considered a disability. Muir suggested focusing on “menopause education” to inform women about options like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and advocated for NHS consultations to promote overall women’s health during menopause.

The EHRC guidance aims to bridge the gap between employers’ understanding and their responsibility to support menopausal employees, fostering a workplace environment that acknowledges and accommodates the needs of women during this stage of their lives.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.