Over the past couple of years, the menopause has become a topical subject for many employers. Last year, there was a lot of publicity around Channel 4's decision to implement a menopause policy. On Monday, many viewers tuned in to Davina McCall's documentary which explored the impact of the menopause on women within the workplace.
The menopause is an important issue and employers should consider their obligations for women experiencing symptoms at work. The menopause itself is not specifically protected under the Equality Act 2010 and is not automatically deemed to be a disability. However, common symptoms of the menopause may include hot flushes, poor concentration and "brain fog" and employers should be alive to the potential risks of employees bringing discrimination claims on the grounds of disability, age or sex discrimination if they are treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms.
Recent research suggests around 18% of women look to leave their job because of the menopause and around a third hide their symptoms in the workplace, which is quite staggering. Due to the increased focus on this subject, employers should consider how to create a working environment where women feel comfortable seeking any support they may need. ACAS has published useful guidance on how to manage menopause in the workplace. In addition, we have seen employers introduce additional support for employees by way of training, events, the implementation of a menopause policy and conducting risk assessments to consider the specific needs of menopausal women.