Q: As a woman in her mid-forties who is perimenopausal, am I entitled to expect my employer to make allowances for me in the workplace? I ask because I find my employer’s attitude both unsympathetic and unhelpful when it comes to recognising and catering for my symptoms, which currently range from depression and irritability to hot flushes and urinary problems. Last week he intimated that I should look for another job if I couldn’t cope with this one.
A: Conditions like perimenopause and menopause that often have non-visible signs can cause even more distress if employers do not recognise them and adopt workplace policies that support sufferers. Currently there is no legislation that requires employers to have a menopause policy or to protect workers experiencing such symptoms, though more public awareness is now putting pressure on bosses to create such policies.
That said, employers do have several other legal responsibilities that are relevant to the effects of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. For example, the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) requires all employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all workers. And under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Act employers must undertake risk assessments, which should include specific risks to those going through perimenopause and menopause, conditions that may also be classed as a disability under the Equality Act (2010)
So, bearing in mind the above, your employer should assess whether: changes need to be made to temperature and ventilation in the workplace to accommodate the needs of people with these conditions, uniforms are made of suitable material, and there is easy accessibility to a rest area, toilet, washroom facilities and drinking water.
You should not allow your employer to bully you into leaving your job because he does not want to accommodate your condition. If he/she continues, you will be protected by one or other piece of employment legislation, even if it is not specially designed to cover perimenopause and menopause, and can take them to a tribunal.
This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194