23 Nov 2021

Menopause in the workplace: what are my employment rights ?

What are my rights as an employee when it comes to menopause - and what do I need to do if I am an employer?

Menopause Policy - Your rights in the workplace

Do you know where you stand if you don't get the support that you need from your employer? Or if you run a business and hire people - do you know your obligations? In this video we teaming up with Michael Kerrigan, senior employment law specialist at @debenhamsottaway to explore and discuss employment rights related to the Menopause.

Is the menopause is affecting you at work? Are you unsure where to turn?

Or perhaps you are a business owner, HR professional or a manager and want to know what to do to help and support your employees?

The Latte Lounge recently teamed up with Michael Kerrigan from Debenhams Ottaway

Watch our recording above to learn all about your employment rights in the workplace - and what you need to do as an employer.

What are your employment rights when it comes to menopause?

The last few years has finally seen the menopause being talked about more widely in the media, and people feeling more comfortable with sharing their experiences and the impact it has on their lives, and those around them, both at home and in the workplace.

The recent World Menopause Day, along with celebrities such as Davina McCall, have done much to raise awareness and encourage women to take control through better evidence-based information, support and all round openness.

Yet, recent statistics from The Latte Lounge show that 42% of women have considered leaving their job due to the menopause and 84% have said there is no workplace support for menopause or they are unsure if it exists.

Related article: Tips for managing menopause at work

Related article: Meet the social worker making legal history to end menopause discrimination at work.

Other research from the Menopause Experts Group, reveals that the number of employment tribunals citing the menopause has quadrupled since 2018.

It's clear that there is still much more work to be done - particularly in the workplace.

The team at law firm Debenhams Ottaway see the impact of the menopause in many aspects of the legal work they do and want to support employers and employees to help reduce these figures.

Employment law specialist, Michael Kerrigan, would like to see the impact of the menopause clearly recognised in the workplace and to help educate both employers and employees on what options and legal support are out there.

Michael and his team believe that it's important to understand the issues surrounding the menopause and make sure friends, family and colleagues feel supported.

Below are a few scenarios that illustrate the common questions Michael is being asked by employers and employees who are impacted by the menopause.

Scenario 1: The menopause is impacting my day to day role and I’m not getting any support from my employer.

" I work in a busy office environment and am going through the menopause. Every day I face symptoms including hot flushes, anxiety and brain fog and this is really impacting the quality of my work. I don’t feel there is anyone I can talk to for support. What can I do? Do I have any legal rights? "

Currently women who are discriminated against because of the effects of the menopause often need to shoe-horn their claims into a disability discrimination complaint. Symptoms can be significant enough to amount to a disability, including mental health problems such as anxiety and cognitive impairment, but there are calls for the menopause to be a protected characteristic in its own right, like pregnancy.

In the meantime, if you are experiencing difficulties at work due to menopausal symptoms, don’t suffer in silence. You should ensure your employer is aware of the symptoms and how it is affecting you consider requesting support to your work environment/ pattern – a formal flexible working request could be submitted if you cannot agree changes informally keep a record of any incidents at work which cause you distress if the problems continue and your employer is unwilling to engage, consider raising a formal grievance.

Scenario 2: I want to provide a supportive environment for my staff who are going through the menopause.

"I run a relatively small business that is made up of mainly female employees and I know some of them are experiencing the menopause. I want to make sure that all managers are equipped to help their team and everyone feels they have support and someone to talk to should they need it. What can I do to provide this support?"

Awareness of the difficulties faced by women who are going through the menopause is climbing up the news, HR and legal agendas, so if you are a business owner it is worth having a menopause policy in place and making sure it’s well publicised with your staff providing mandatory training for all managers so they know how to support their colleagues who are going through the menopause having a menopause mentor or support service; someone who has knowledge of menopause symptoms and could be available to speak to anyone who needs support.

Need some help in the meantime?

You can contact Michael Kerrigan, employment law specialist at Debenhams Ottaway, directly on 01727 738244 or mk@debenhamsottaway.co.uk

This article was part of a paid partnership with Debenhams Ottaway

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