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On 22 February 2024, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published new Guidance for Employers: Menopause in the workplace.

The Guidance attracted headlines in the papers stating ‘Firms must help menopausal workers, or face being sued’ (BBC) and ‘Respect the menopause or be sued for disability discrimination, firms told’ (The Times).

That Guidance recognises that workers are protected from discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of protected characteristics including disability, age and sex. Disability will only apply if the menopausal symptoms amount to a disability.

It is important to understand that not all women with menopausal symptoms will be disabled. To be disabled, the symptoms must have ‘a long term and substantial impact on a woman’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’

If menopausal symptoms amount to a disability, then employers are under a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments. That is not saying that those persons with lesser symptoms should not be supported in the workplace.

[*NB: Other than duty to make reasonable adjustments, laws on disability in Great Britain differ to those currently applying in Northern Ireland]

The Guide has three videos, which are:

  1. Menopause and the Equality Act 2010 

This explains the protection under the Equality Act 2010 which applies in Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, workers would be protected under the  Disability Discrimination Act 1995,  Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 and The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006   

  1. Making Workplace Adjustments:

This video gives examples of some workplace adjustments such as providing rest areas, flexible work hours, changing shifts and making changes to the physcial work environment (e,g, room temperature, ventilation).

It also explains the risks associated with failing to make such adjustments (e.g. costs of legal claims and losing staff) as well outlining the benefits of taking proactive steps (rating staff and attracting workers).

  1. Conversations about the Menopause:

The Guidance encourages an open culture where workers feel able to talk about their symptoms and ask for adjustments to their work, involving all workers and not just management.


Whether or not menopause is a disability will depend on particular circumstances of each case, but it is not helpful (and wrong) to suggest that all females going through menopause are disabled.

However, it is important that awareness continues to be raised about how menopause affects females in the workplace. This may help some females remain at work, particularly if they are being supported by their Employer.