World Menopause Month: First UK Menopause Discrimination Case

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Menopause affects 51% of the population and three in five menopausal women are negatively affected at work. BUPA found that almost 900,000 women in the UK have left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms, so it can be highly stressful for those affected.

Maria Rooney, a children’s social worker, took sickness leave from her job at Leicester City Council due to her symptoms. She claimed that after returning, the council failed to consider the reasons for her absence or for any adjustments to be made so she could continue working. In 2018, she resigned due to unfavourable treatment and discrimination which she alleges was constructive dismissal. She will be the first in the UK to bring a tribunal case to consider the symptoms as a disability. The results will be pivotal for UK Employment law.

ACAS states that anyone put at a disadvantage or treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms can make a discrimination claim if it is connected to a protected characteristic which amounts to a disability under the Equality Act.

What does it mean for you, the employer? 

Managing the effects of menopause at work is important for both employers and their staff, and talented and experienced women should not have to leave their workforce because of their symptoms, so what should you do to support women in your workplace? 

You must consider the duty of care that the organisation owes its employees, and the general well-being of staff, and handle situations with sensitivity. To create a workplace where women are supported and to avoid the risk of discrimination, an employer can: 

  • Provide workplace support to women experiencing menopause symptoms to improve the inclusiveness of your workplace environment to enable the right conversations and de-stigmatise women’s health issues 
  • Develop a menopause policy that explains how menopause impacts people differently at work and to raise awareness amongst employees, male and female, and to show what support is available 
  • Provide awareness training for managers including how to deal with the subject sensitively and fairly 
  • Communicate with those going through health issues with sensitivity and understanding, conducting regular welfare checks 
  • Consider making practical changes at work to help staff manage their symptoms such as the availability of cold drinking water and temperature control 
  • Implement a conduct policy on discrimination to set the bar for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour 
  • Provide guidance on where to find support outside of the organisation. 

Capital Law Employment Investigations Unit  

If you are faced with a menopause-related employment issue or grievance, our team of experienced independent and impartial employment investigators can help. Please call us for an initial chat on 0808 196 3151 or learn morehere.