Menopause and work – supporting women in employment

18 Oct 2022
Author: Andrea Twaddle

The spotlight has been on numerous aspects of inequality in women’s work over recent years, from pay inequality, discrimination, sexual harassment, the motherhood penalty and period poverty. However, the impact of menopause and perimenopause on womens’ work is still a largely silent and taboo issue. It’s time this changed, given that menopause is a medical condition which affects half the population.  

Women have varied experiences through menopause, including different symptoms. These include hot flushes, headaches and migraines, disturbed sleep patterns including insomnia, joint pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, short term memory problems, mood swings, heart palpitations, anxiety and depression. Clearly, these symptoms can affect women at work.   

Presently, there are no direct legislative provisions that address women experiencing symptoms of menopause at work. There are prohibitions on direct or indirect discrimination based on sex in both the Human Rights Act and Employment Relations Act [1]. However, while pregnancy and childbirth is explicitly referenced, there is no such acknowledgement of menopause. There is no Government guidance for employers on menopause, nor a specific Ministry that provides information for employers or employees.[2]   

Education for employers and employees, and more open discussions in society about menopause generally are important. Menopausal women have a significant contribution to make to the workforce. Often, they are in critical leadership roles. However, it is not uncommon for women to leave their job or take extended breaks from the workforce because of feeling unsupported through menopause in their work experience.   

There are options that can be taken to minimise or alleviate the underlying symptoms of menopause that are contributing to challenges at work. For example: 

  • Education on the health impacts of menopause for all employees. Individuals need to understand potential symptoms to be able to identify them and how they may affect their work. Managers need to understand that this may be an issue that is contributing to issues arising at work, and trained to have difficult conversations with the women they work with.  

  • Workplace policies can be introduced to acknowledge that menopause is a health condition, and provide information on support available, such as who to speak with, additional time off for medical appointments, external support available and any additional options offered by an employer such as flexible working arrangements. It is problematic for an employer to suggest that they provide an inclusive workplace when they don’t turn their minds to how to support women through menopause.
  • Employers may consult with their employees, seeking medical information (with the woman’s consent) to obtain guidance about how they can be supported, before addressing performance concerns that may be a result of their underlying experience of menopause.  
  • Women may wish to consider a flexible working request.[3] 
  • Environmental factors such as ventilation and temperature controls can be reviewed and addressed. 

Without these policies and supports in place, businesses risk losing valuable employees whose expertise, experience and leadership are essential to their workplaces. 

However, these options first require good faith discussions about the underlying impact of menopause on the woman. This requires a psychologically safe workplace for an employee to share their experience and ask for support. 

While the conversation is just starting, greater awareness around menopause at work will lead to better support for affected women.   

For advice on how to address menopause at work, including drafting or review of a workplace menopause policy, please don’t hesitate to contact our specialist employment lawyers at DTI Lawyers. We are experts and would be pleased to assist you. You can contact us on 07 282 0174, or 


[1] Discrimination in employment occurs if an employer, directly or indirectly based on the prohibited ground of discrimination:
* gives an employee less favourable terms of employment, work conditions, benefits, opportunities for training, promotion as other employees with the same skills, experience or qualifications, employed insubstantially similar circumstances; or
* dismisses an employee or acts in a way that has a negative effect on their employment, job performance or job satisfaction when they are not treating other employees doing the same type of work in the same way; or
* causes the end of the employee’s employment by creating unfavourable working conditions.
It is acknowledged that there are some specific employment situations which are exceptions.

[2] For example, a search of the Government’s employment law website for menopause will find there is no resource available.

[3] In working to close the gender pay gap, the Ministry for Women have identified increasing and normalising flexible work practices. However, there is no specific plan to address womens’ experience of menopause at work.

Menopause and work – supporting women in employment
About the Author
Andrea Twaddle
Andrea is an experienced specialist employment lawyer and Director at DTI Lawyers. She advises on contentious and non-contentious employment law issues, including privacy, and health and safety matters. Andrea is AWI-CH qualified, and undertakes complex workplace investigations. She is a member of the national Law Society Employment Law Reform Committee, a former Council Member at the WBOP District Branch of the Law Society, and Coordinator of the WBOP Employment Law Committee. Andrea is a sought-after commentator and speaker on employment law issues at client and industry seminars. She provides specialist, strategic advice to other lawyers, professional advisors and leadership teams. You can contact Andrea at