The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued guidance to inform firms they could be liable for being taken to an employment tribunal if they do not make reasonable adjustments for staff experiencing menopause.

Adjustments can include time off, flexible hours, relaxed uniform policies and rest areas. Failing to make reasonable adjustments can amount to disability discrimination, as menopause symptoms can have a long term and substantial impact on a person’s ability to carry out usual day-to-day activities.

Over two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 60 have experienced menopausal symptoms and work, and one in 10 women have been forced to leave their jobs because of symptoms. 

If an employer takes disciplinary action because of a menopause-related absence, this can be discrimination and language that makes fun of symptoms can be harassment. 

The chairwoman of the EHRC, Baroness Kishwer Falkner said she was concerned: “both by how many women report being forced out of a role due to their menopause-related symptoms, and how many don’t feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments”.

What’s the impact of menopause on business?

Businesses know staff turnover is expensive. And the costs are exponentially greater when staff have more experience and have developed long term organisational knowledge. It’s expensive to lose any staff, it’s even more expensive to lose experienced staff, while the benefits of investing in diversity and inclusion have returns many times greater than any initial investment. With menopausal women being the fastest-growing demographic in today’s workplace, businesses must start thinking about the impact of menopause on their workforce.

Menopausal symptoms can impact on productivity. It can cause fatigue, memory issues and anxiety, alongside significant negative stereotypes at work, or expected to just ‘grin and bear it.’ The impact of having to overcompensate can lead to significant stress and burnout, and can expound on existing symptoms. 

In short, if organisations don’t support employees during menopause, it will lead to increased time off, lower productivity, and ultimately loss of talented and experienced employees. 

VinciWorks recent research revealed that online queries for ‘menopause and workplace adjustments’ have surged by a staggering 80% over the past four years (data analysed from October 2019 to September 2023). In parallel, searches for ‘menopause training course and menopause awareness training’ have risen by 75% over the same period. Intriguingly, the term ‘menopause-friendly workplace’ has seen a 63% increase in searches. 

How to create a menopause-friendly environment at work

  • Provide training to both managers and staff to facilitate open conversations about menopause and ensure managers can recognise and support employees experiencing it.
  • Break the stigma by demonstrating empathy towards staff going through menopause and asking sensitively about their needs and well-being.
  • Develop a workplace menopause policy or integrate menopause into existing health and wellness policies so that employees are aware of their rights and available support.
  • Consider flexible working arrangements, such as adaptable working hours or remote work options, to accommodate employees dealing with menopausal symptoms.
  • Ensure workplace facilities are comfortable by providing temperature control, access to private restrooms, and cold water and fans.
  • Allow flexible use of sick leave or personal days to manage the unpredictable nature of menopausal symptoms or permit short breaks as needed.

Join our menopause webinar with Newson Health expert Dr Rebecca Lewis

Wednesday 6 March 12pm UK

Many organisations discuss gender equality and promoting women, particularly older and more experienced women. But what does this look like in practice? What are the practical steps to supporting older women in the workplace, and how can barriers to success be overcome?

In this webinar, VinciWorks compliance experts will take you through the steps your organisation can take to become menopause friendly. From implementing a menopause leave policy to environmental factors affecting a workplace, this session will inform you on why making your organisation menopause friendly is a cost-effective, impactful and necessary initiative.

The webinar will feature an interview with Dr Rebecca Lewis from the highly respected Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre.

This session will cover:

  • The basics of menopause as a diversity and inclusion issue
  • Building a coalition for progressive menopause change in an organisation
  • Countering common myths, stigmas and stereotypes
  • Top tips for implementing a menopause leave policy
  • Tackling environmental, organisational and cultural factors on menopause