Menopause in the workplace: time for a change
A recent Scottish Employment Tribunal case highlights the importance for employers of dealing sensitively with employees going through the menopause. The employee in question was dismissed after getting into an argument about her medication at work, and succeeded in claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
There are various legal claims which could potentially arise where an employee is going through the menopause (or her colleagues perceive that she is doing so). Menopausal staff have succeeded in claims for sex discrimination by arguing that a man suffering similar symptoms would have been treated more sympathetically, and employers could potentially face age discrimination claims (for example, if a female employee were subjected to offensive remarks about menopausal symptoms, that could amount to age-related harassment as well as sex-related harassment). If menopause symptoms are sufficiently serious to constitute a disability under the Equality Act, the employer will also be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
With more and more women aged 50 and over in the workforce, employers need to be alive to the issues and ensure that existing policies and practices on employee ill-health, dignity at work and flexible working are applied fairly and sensitively to employees going through the menopause. We suspect that employers will see more and more grievances and claims linked to menopause symptoms.
If you would like any further information, please contact Head of Employment Jane Amphlett.