Managing Menopause In The Workplace

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  • April 16, 2024

The Menopause continues to be one of the biggest HR hot topics in the workplace.

Why? The legal context

The Menopause is effectively covered by various strands of legislation.

Under the Equality Act, 2010, the Menopause is potentially covered under 3 protected characteristics – age, sex and disability.

Also, the Health and Safety at Work Act provides for safe working which extends to the working conditions when experiencing menopausal symptoms. There are also statutory rights to flexible working and there has been a significant increase amongst women who want to work flexibly – either reduced hours or from home – to better deal with their symptoms.

Finally, there is an implied “duty of care” that employers owe their employees.

Does a business need a Menopause policy?

Whilst there is no statutory obligation to have a menopause policy, it is good practice to either have a policy or set of guidelines and in larger Companies can ensure consistency in approach. Furthermore, a menopause policy can help to create a culture based on empathy and understanding and ensure that people going through the menopause feel valued and supported.

Dependent on the detail within the policy, it can provide a mechanism for enabling women going through the menopause to formally request flexible working or adjustments to ease the symptoms.

If a Company adopts a Menopause policy, it is useful to support this with awareness training so that all stakeholders are aware of the importance of dealing with such issues and women understand the support framework.

What can an employer do to support Menopause?

Hot flushes and night sweats are a significant issue with menopausal women so temperature control is important. This may include the provision of fans, air conditioning systems – in some cases women may prefer to sit near a window.

Where women are required to wear heavy duty clothing because of physical jobs, it is quite common for employers to provide overalls made of a different lighter material to reduce sweating and temperature fluctuations.

Also, in environments such as Contract Centres, it should be borne in mind that women may need to go to the loo more often so they may need to leave their work station more than someone else. This is also a factor with driving and multi-drop delivery work.

Employers should also realise that the menopause disturbs sleep, so there may be issues of drowsiness and it is common for women to reduce their working hours or in some cases, have a hybrid working arrangement enabling them to work from home.

Employers should also be alert to “brain fog” which is not a medical term but commonly used to describe menopausal women with cognitive issues such as memory and forgetfulness, poor concentration, lack of focus and distraction.

Some Companies have appointed “menopause champions” – these are people that women can go to in confidence to discuss difficult and sensitive issues – in a similar manner to Mental Health First Aiders. Sometimes these roles sit within an HR Team.

Consider the introduction of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAPs) – such schemes give employees an opportunity to discuss issues in confidence with trained experts. Also, many Companies support women with counselling and or specialist menopause coaching from trained professionals.

The menopause and mental health

It is common for menopausal women to feel a sense of reduced self-esteem and self-confidence and feel that their job is at risk or in some cases, it could be perceived to be damaging to career prospects.

This leads to mental health issues and often menopausal women will get signed off by their GP for low mood, anxiety or depression.

Performance management

If there are issues or concerns regarding a women’s performance giving rise to questions about capability, the employer must be alert to the fact that the reason may be due to the menopause and should consider how the menopause is impacting on their ability to do the job to the required standard and explore reasonable adjustments.

Dismissing a menopausal women on the grounds of performance or capability is NOT without risk.

Office banter

Every woman deals with the menopause differently and whilst some are happy to joke about their hot sweats and hot flushes, others find the whole issue very difficult to deal with and get upset. In many cases, women have invoked the grievance procedure because they have been upset, hurt or offended by inappropriate comments and jokes.

Some employers may say that this is just “office banter” so without wanting to create a working environment where no-one can have a laugh, it is not appropriate to make the menopause the butt of jokes and we have already seen Employment Tribunal cases successfully brought by women who felt they were the butt of office banter and found it so upsetting and insensitive that they felt they had to leave.


TV programmes have demonstrated that it is ok to talk about the symptoms of the menopause and it is no longer a “taboo” subject so employers should face up to the issues of women in the workplace going through the menopause.

Adrian Berwick offers HR support to SMEs and GP Surgeries and if you want any advice or guidance on the issues raised in this article, please either contact me on 07885 714771 or