Menopause in the Workplace – promoting education and awareness at Lawson-West

Menopause in the Workplace – promoting education and awareness at Lawson-West

What is Menopause?

The perimenopause and menopause are a natural part of biological aging that affect every woman, usually between the ages of 45 to 55, but this can and does occur much earlier where menopause is a consequence of surgical or medical procedures or early menopause is simply a genetic factor.

The symptoms experienced can range from mild to debilitating and this can have a profound effect on woman’s relationships with those around them and their ability to function properly at work.

Lawson-West tackles the topic...

Head of HR & Operations, Hannah Warren, is running awareness sessions for Lawson-West staff as it is important that everyone of all genders:

  • Is aware of what perimenopause and menopause is and what the symptoms are.

  • Understands how these symptoms can impact upon people’s ability to feel well and perform at work.

  • Knows how to handle sensitive conversations around perimenopause and menopause.

  • Is aware of what adjustments we can put in place in the working environment to help those affected.

Hannah Warren explains:

“With over 50% of the workforce being female, the impact of the menopause on an employee’s ability to function at work and at home cannot be ignored. In addition to having a Menopause Policy in place, we decided to break down the outdated taboo around discussing this topic by holding awareness sessions for both mixed sex groups and a female only group. The purpose was to not only educate and raise awareness of the symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause, symptoms and what adjustments we can put in place to help, but also to offer a safe place for colleagues to discuss their own experiences. These sessions have been received very well so far and are a much-needed step in the right direction for helping those affected to feel heard and supported and also to support those around them, so they know how best to help support their colleagues.”

Menopause Discrimination in the Workplace

When looking at menopause in the workplace, employers need to be aware not to discriminate against female employees based on their menopausal symptoms. Common phrases from menopausal employees are;

  • “Help, my brain has turned to mush”

  • “I’ve had a migraine for 3 years”

  • “I feel dizzy, and my memory is affected”

  • “I experience pins and needles in my arms and legs”

  • “My HRT has side-effects”

  • “I can’t do my job anymore”

Studies have shown that menopause symptoms can have a significant impact on attendance and performance in the workplace.

Menopause is not just a gender or age issue, as it can impact on colleagues both directly or indirectly, and it should therefore be considered as an organisational issue. 

With 68% of employees in the UK who are female (9.3million people), it is staggering the number of workers who will at some point face menopausal symptoms in their job. Currently 3.5million UK workers are female and aged over 50. With these high numbers involved, the number of women likely to be impacted in their job and struggling is very high and most places of work will have female workers affected.

How can Employers help?

It is good practice for employers to have a ‘menopause policy’ in their employee handbook and to formalise a process for menopausal women to make a complaint or request without fear of being bullied into working when they are simply not up to it.

Employers might like to discuss the woman’s role with her and how disruption could be minimised, and her wellbeing needs supported. Some menopausal women ask to reduce their hours for example or ask for more flexible hours, or shorter workdays. 

Top 5 Menopause Steps for Employers:

  1. Don’t discriminate- the needs of female workers are different from male workers

  2. Be supportive and sympathetic - discuss health and wellbeing with female employees

  3. Set up a menopause procedure - for work change requests and publish this internally

  4. Make ‘reasonable adjustments’ - when asked to do so by a female employee

  5. Don’t dismiss a female employee on the grounds of menopause symptoms alone.

Menopause Symptoms

Symptoms differ from woman to woman, and the range of symptoms is vast, anything from a headache to dizziness, depression, anxiety or memory loss. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms in the table below could be indicative of other, sometimes more serious illnesses, which is why it is important for women to seek medical opinion about their condition if they suspect the menopause is having an impact.

There are at least 30 symptoms of menopause, not all women experience all of these, but most women suffer with many of them at some point during their menopause.

Physical Symptoms:

Adult Acne


Bloating or constipation


Developing a new allergy or food intolerance

Dizziness, feeling faint


Dry or itchy skins


Electric shocks


Fatigue – feeling tired or unwell




Heavy bleeding


Hot sweats or ‘flushes’


Irregular periods, no periods


Joint pain


Loss of hair, hair loss


Night sweats




Palpitations, irregular heartbeat, cardiovascular and circulatory irregularities

Reduced saliva


Skin, hair and nails (lack of oestrogen creating lack of collagen, hair becomes weak, nails become brittle, skin loses texture)


Sore breasts


Stress incontinence


Teeth and gum problems


Urinary tract infections, more trips to the toilet

Vaginal dryness


Weight gain


Brain Function & Other Body Symptoms:


Changes in libido


Depletion in body’s ability to produce vitamin B12 and vitamin D


Depressionfeeling low, mood swings




Insomnia, disturbed sleep

Lack of concentration


Memory loss (temporary), forgetfulness

Panic Disorder


Early Menopause

A few women start the menopause early, even in their twenties, thirties or forties. This can be down to abdominal surgery or pregnancy complications (the removal of the uterus and reproductive ovaries with the effect of reducing or removing oestrogen from the body), medication, or a family history of early menopause. So, it’s not just an ‘older woman’s’ complaint and could affect any adult female employee.

The Law and Menopause

Menopause is an occupational health issue, but it is not a recognised disability. However, under the Equality Act 2010, a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has an adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

This means that the menopause is not a specific protected characteristic under the Equality Act, however, if an employee or worker is put at a disadvantage and treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms, this could be discrimination if related to a protected characteristic, for example: age, disability, gender reassignment & sex. 


With offices in Leicester and Market Harborough our experienced employment solicitors can discuss your employment law claim. If you believe you have a situation where you require legal advice, please contact us on telephone 0116 212 1000 or 01858 445 480, alternatively fill in the free Contact Us form and we will get in touch as soon as possible.


Helpful links and associated web pages: 

Know Your Menopause  - How to Spot the Symptoms

Menopause Symptoms - NHS Guidance

The British Menopause Society 

Women's Health Concern - more about the Menopause, downloadable factsheets and more

International Women's Day - Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Napo guide to the menopause at work.pdf

World Menopause Day ( 18 October

Menopause Hormones - What are they ands how do they change?

Menopause and employment law - Menopause Friendly Accreditation

5 Things men should know about menopause – BBC article

CASES - Mandy Davies Menopause case against her employer 

ACAS - Menopause and the law: Menopause at work

UNISON - The-menopause-and-work-A-UNISON-Guide.pdf  

Menopause and the workplace | NHS Employers

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