Menopause at work: Fighting for our rights

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on Jan 16, 2023

Menopause at work: Fighting for our rights

More people experiencing menopause are calling out workplaces for discrimination, according to new statistics

We’re still a long way from reaching gender equality in the workplace and, as exhausted as many women are, we continue to fight. Recent statistics shared by Menopause Experts Group reveal that the number of employment tribunals citing menopause has quadrupled since 2018.

This implies we’re feeling more confident about standing up for ourselves, but it also points to a real problem in the workplace. In 2017, ‘menopause’ was mentioned eight times in tribunals. In the first six months of 2021 alone, it’s been mentioned 116 times.

During one tribunal, recruitment worker Aggie Kownacka explained how she was told by her boss that it was “no big deal” that she would be forced into menopause at age 37 and unable to conceive children.

In Birmingham, another tribunal ruled a claimant disabled by menopause due to frequent and debilitating hot flushes. Another judge dismissed a similar claim, however, showing that there isn’t a clear-cut answer in the eyes of law as to whether or not menopause can be a disability.

Founder and CEO of Menopause Experts Group, Dee Murray commented to say menopause is one area employers keep getting wrong.

“This dramatic rise in the number of employment tribunals citing menopause shows how women are standing up for themselves against outdated and ill-informed bosses. The lack of education is dangerous for women’s health and unfair to their careers.

“What’s frustrating is the fact that there are so many training courses available to employers. Teaching our colleagues about menopause is vital if we are going to remove the stigma surrounding what is a big part of a woman’s life.”

Employment lawyer and non-executive director at Menopause Experts Group Adam Pavey noted how concerning it is that so many employees are facing this type of discrimination.

“Improved education and information means that women feel better informed and more empowered to raise concerns about menopause-related discrimination, but the law in this area is too far behind the reality.

“The lack of consistency from tribunals as to whether menopause is an issue of disability or sex discrimination is cause for concern. Employers and employees need clarity so this can be tackled proactively, and the law needs to catch up.”

Offering free training to all, Menopause Experts Group have already delivered training to the Metropolitan Police, Finastra and Macfarlanes.

Talking to Happiful, author and journalist Sam Baker explains that her rage feels purposeful.

“I did go through a phase of torrential anger during perimenopause, but now I feel like I have very purposeful anger. I know what I am, and what I’m not prepared to put up with – and somebody mocking me, or saying I’m hysterical is not going to cut any ice.”

If we can direct our rage and continue to stand up for ourselves, employers and the law will have to listen. If you feel you’re being discriminated against at work, visit Citizen’s Advice to learn about your next steps.

If your mental health is being affected, support is available. Learn more and find a counsellor to help at Counselling Directory.

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