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Not Supporting Menopausal Workers? You Could Be Sued...

Not Supporting Menopausal Workers? You Could Be Sued...

Heard the news? This week, the European Court of Human Rights issued guidance to help clarify the legal obligations of employers to their staff experiencing menopause. The ECHR’s advice states that bosses who do not make "reasonable adjustments" for staff who require support during this transitional time amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 when the symptoms have a "long-term and substantial impact" on a staffer’s ability to carry out their usual duties in their role. 

The news has been met with mixed reactions. Some argued that categorising this natural life stage as a disability is a step backwards in normalising menopause. However, for many who are struggling, this is positive news. Symptoms of the menopause are often reduced to ‘hot flashes’ or mood swings, but actually there are over 62 reported symptoms which can hinder daily life, from relationships to professional responsibilities. For instance, anxiety, insomnia and problems with memory and concentration can really hinder you performing your role to the best of your ability, but the majority of employers are not stepping up to help.

Menopause discrimination is real

We’ve heard it ourselves from our friends and wider community: talented, passionate women workers are feeling hounded out of their jobs, forgotten about or actively dismissed when requesting support in their roles during menopause. The EHRC-cited research showed:

  • 1 in 10 women surveyed who worked during menopause had to leave their jobs due to the impact of symptoms
  • ⅔ of women between the ages of 40 and 60 experienced menopausal symptoms at work, which were overwhelmingly detrimental. Most didn’t request support or adjustments from their employer as they feared discrimination or a negative reaction.

Whilst the stats are shocking, the issued advice for employers is a step forward in emphasising the very real and impactful nature of menopausal symptoms (rather than the Avanti West Coast gift bags for staff, which contained patronising goodies such as a paper fan and a jelly baby “in case you feel like biting someone's head off”). The real test however, is seeing how business leaders and owners actively adapt to this guidance. From providing rest areas, lowering office temperatures, adapting flexible working or relaxed uniform policies to allow for hot flashes, it all comes down to deeds not words.

Want more?

  • Which employers have a menopause policy? Find out here.
  • Experiencing symptoms? Discover our all-natural Menopause Support supplement.
  • Sex feeling different post-menopause? Our in-house gynae explains why.

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