Menopause Symptoms considered to satisfy the definition of ‘Disability’ under the Equality Act 2010?

An interesting update this week in Employment Law. On 2nd October 2023, the Leicester Employment Tribunal in Leicester heard a claim relating to how employers treat employees who are experiencing menopause symptoms.

The Claimant brought the claim for unfavourable treatment after she was given a formal warning following extended periods of sick leave due to menopause symptoms, as well as suffering work related stress and anxiety, from her employment as a social worker for Leicester City Council. The Claimant felt obliged to resign from her employment in October 2018 and filed claims with the Employment Tribunal in January 2019.

The Employment Tribunal decided when considering the matter at a preliminary hearing in February 2022, that the Claimant was in fact disabled at all material times covered by her claims.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has highlighted that this is the first time menopause symptoms have been found to be a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.

The Chairwoman of the EHRC, Baroness Kishwer Falkner, has stated that the EHRC will launch ‘new guidance’ for employers in relation to the treatment of staff who are experiencing the menopause.

This is an interesting development in Employment Law, and something that all Employers should ensure that they are aware of when dealing with employees who suffer from symptoms resulting from menopause, and should therefore proceed with caution, ensuring reasonable adjustments are made for those employees where necessary.

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