It is refreshing to see that in our society there is now more acknowledgment of the impact that the menopause can have on those who experience it. But has employment law kept pace?

Whilst the menopause is not a protected characteristic, it may give rise to discrimination claims for those who are impacted by it.

The symptoms and effects the menopause can have on day-to-day life may fall within the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010 where they amount to a “physical or mental impairment…[that] has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [their] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. It is generally accepted that long-term means lasting, or likely to recur, for 12 months or longer for the purposes of this definition.

Whilst it is accepted that the menopause can affect those of all genders, historically it has perhaps been women who were predominantly indirectly affected by strict policies applied across the board relating to uniform, toilet breaks and time off for medical appointments, for example.

It is advisable for employers to consider a specific Menopause Policy to deal with the above issues, although this is not a requirement and some aspects will be covered in other policies. Where general policies are used, employers should be prepared to adapt policies and make reasonable adjustments where appropriate.  However, a specific policy will enable employers to support employees and workers who are peri-menopausal, menopausal or post-menopausal with the specific adjustments they may require.

If you have a question about the menopause and workplace discrimination, or any other aspect of employment law then our employment team can help. Here at Beecham Peacock we have a trusted relationship with some of the largest trade unions in the country to protect your working rights. For further information call us on 0191 232 3048 or email

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