Firms must help menopausal workers, or face being sued - BBC News

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued the guidance to clarify the legal obligations to workers going through the menopause. nSymptoms can include hot flushes, brain fog and difficulty sleeping.

The EHRC said bosses should offer changes such as providing rest areas or flexible hours to help.nRelaxing uniform policies to allow women to wear cooler clothes could also help. Menopause marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycle, and usually happens in her 40s or 50s. 

Failing to make "reasonable adjustments" amounts to disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 if the symptoms have a "long-term and substantial impact" on a woman's ability to carry out their usual day-to-day activities, the EHRC said.

A video explaining the guidance says: "The costs of failing to make workplace adjustments for staff can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds when taking into account the loss of talent and costs of defending a claim."

The EHRC cited research showing that one in 10 women surveyed who worked during their menopause were forced to leave their job due to the symptoms. 

Two-thirds of women between the ages of 40 and 60 experienced menopausal symptoms at work, which largely had a negative impact. Very few asked for adjustments during this time because they were concerned about the potential reaction, it added. 

The EHRC adds that taking disciplinary action against women for a menopause related-absence could amount to discrimination, and that language that ridicules someone's symptoms could constitute harassment. 

EHRC chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner said the watchdog was "concerned both by how many women report being forced out of a role due to their menopause-related symptoms, and how many don't feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments".

She added that employers "may not fully understand their responsibility to protect their staff going through the menopause", and that the new guidance had been issued to provide advice on how they can support their staff. 

Women's health campaigner and author of Everything you need to know about the menopause (but were too afraid to ask) Kate Muir said the announcement was a "side alley" in the wider conversation around menopause.

"It's not a disability," she told the BBC's Today programme. "It's something every woman goes through and legislation is not going to give you your missing hormones back."

Ms Muir said the main focus should be promoting "menopause education" to inform women about "safer kinds of HRT which mean they don't need to have symptoms at all".

She argued the NHS should give women a "proper consultation" when they go through menopause, as she said "good HRT" protects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. 

"Those are the messages we should be getting out to women so they can work, be powerful and go through this stage and be happy," she added.

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