Further updates: menopause in the workplace

15th October 2021

Employment Tribunal erred in its judgement that menopausal symptoms did not amount to a disability – Ms M Rooney v Leicester City Council 

Facts: The claimant was a childcare social worker. The claimant had been suffering from menopausal symptoms which included hot flushes and sweating, palpitations and anxiety, night sweats and sleep disturbance, fatigue, poor concentration, urinary problems and headaches. The claimant described her symptoms as leading her to forget to attend events, meetings and appointments, losing personal possessions, forgetting to put the handbrake on her car and forgetting to lock it, leaving the cooker and iron on and leaving the house without locking doors and windows. The claimant also described spending prolonged periods in bed due to fatigue/exhaustion. The claimant explained that she had been suffering with these symptoms for two years and that her GP had prescribed her with hormone replacement therapy to help ease the symptoms.

In 2018, the claimant resigned from her employment with Leicester City Council for a number of reasons, one being her employer’s refusal to allow her to see a female doctor for her occupational health assessment as she felt embarrassed discussing her menopausal symptoms with a male doctor. Another being that the claimant’s male manager said to her that he also gets hot in the office in response to the claimant informing him that she was suffering from hot flushes in the office.

The Employment Tribunal Judge held that the claimant’s menopausal symptoms did not amount to a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. The claimant appealed this decision on the basis that the judge had not properly addressed the difficult issues he had cited as there being.

EAT decision published 8 October 2021

When reviewing the Employment Tribunal’s decision the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that based on the evidence, the Judge had erred in determining that the claimant’s menopausal symptoms did not amount to a disability. In particular, the Judge seemed to ignore the claimant’s evidence that she suffered from both physical and mental impairments as a result of her menopausal symptoms and that her symptoms had lasted for 2 years. Also, no explanation had been given by the judge as to why he did not consider that the effect of the claimant’s menopausal symptoms on her day-day activities were more than minor. This matter has therefore been sent back to the Employment Tribunal for another Judge to carefully consider the facts and make another decision on whether the claimant’s menopausal symptoms amount to a legal disability.

In other news….

IOSH response to parliamentary enquiry into menopause in the workplace

The UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) published its response to a Parliamentary enquiry into the menopause in the workplace. IOSH have encouraged employers to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture and adopt managerial styles that make those with symptoms of the menopause feel comfortable requesting support.

Specific recommendations include introducing flexible working to cater for the psychosocial needs of menopause-related issues, whether specific risks for individuals going through the menopause are considered in risk assessments, and to develop awareness and training strategies to increase understanding of the menopause and its potential impacts on individuals.

This is the second article in our menopause in the workplace series. To see our first article, please click here.

Further resources – HR Breakfast Club webinar

In our September 2021 HR Breakfast Club, we provided practical advice to employers on how to avoid Tribunal claims when managing menopause in the workplace. To watch the recording, please click here.

Get in touch with an Employment law specialist today

If you would like further advice on how to avoid tribunal claims made against you, or if you are concerned that a claim will be made against you, then please contact our Employment Law Partner Sally Bird on 0161 912 6145 or email sally.bird@kuits.com.

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