News & Updates

Navigating Menopause in the Workplace – Insights from WJM's Martin Stephen

Martin Stephen

Published byMartin Stephen

31st October 2023

Navigating Menopause in the Workplace – Insights from WJM's Martin Stephen

As World Menopause Month comes to a close, prompting discussion and debate around menopause in the workplace, Martin Stephen, Partner at Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie discusses how employers can help to support team members.

In recent years there have been accelerated discussions and awareness of the impact of many conditions in the workplace, including menopause. Employers have a dual responsibility - both legally and morally - to create workplaces that are devoid of any form of discrimination, including issues related to this condition.

While the Equality Act of 2010 doesn't explicitly list menopause as a protected characteristic, it's crucial for employers to remain vigilant. Each case is unique and hinges on specific circumstances. The recent landmark case of Mrs. Farquharson stands as a stark reminder that insensitive or dismissive comments can constitute harassment if they violate an employee’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment.

Workplaces can take proactive steps to educate their workforce about menopause and implement policies that promote inclusivity and support for employees experiencing this transition. This may include providing flexible work arrangements, reasonable adjustments and open channels of communication for those who may require additional assistance.

The recent landmark case of Karen Farquharson hit headlines after the office manager won a £37,000 payout after her boss told her she used menopause as “an excuse for everything”.

Cases like this demonstrate that it is more important than ever for workplaces to look at the policies they have in place and ensure they are providing an inclusive and supportive environment. Although Mrs Farquharson’s case does not establish a precedent it will serve to raise awareness and we can expect an increase of similar claims.

By taking proactive steps, such as education, policy implementation, and open communication channels, employers can create an inclusive and supportive environment for every member of their team.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of relevant law and practice as at October 2023. Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP cannot be held responsible for any action taken or not taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be taken on any individual matter. Transmissions to or from our email system and calls to or from our offices may be monitored and/or recorded for regulatory purposes. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 302 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5RZ. A limited liability partnership registered in Scotland, number SO 300336.