This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Emmanuelle Ries

Partner, Kingsley Napley

Quotation Marks
We are also seeing more and more enquiries from employers as to the reasonable adjustments they should put in place in the workplace

EHRC guidance: taking anger out of menopause symptoms in the workplace

EHRC guidance: taking anger out of menopause symptoms in the workplace


Following the publication of guidance for employers by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Emmanuelle Ries shares her views on why it’s important that women experiencing menopausal symptoms feel supported in the workplace

So, twenty plus years into your career, you think you understand your working life in the law. Then, suddenly, you are not sure you understand yourself anymore. Emotions can be overwhelming, mood swings come out of nowhere and you behave irrationally in a way you do not recognise. It was my step-daughter, herself just coming out of a teenage rollercoaster of moods, that was the first to point out to me that some of my reactions were out of sorts and over the top. I was waking at night with hot flushes. The penny dropped that a bigger force than I was used to was at play.

I was fortunate at the time to have women colleagues who were talking about their menopause symptoms and exchanging tips as to how to minimise hormone fluctuations naturally with herbal supplements, diet and exercise and, for some, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I decided to take action and within a few weeks, amazingly, I was able to function as usual. I was lucky in that sense because for some women, the symptoms of the menopause can be more severe and cannot be alleviated.

The menopause is something all women go through but it affects them differently. This is why, in my view, legislation adding the menopause to the list of medical conditions constituting a disability would not be right. The menopause is a natural part of the different stages of our lives as women, it is not a disability any more than being a teenager affected by hormonal changes is a disability. However, the symptoms of the menopause are real, and can sometimes be so severe, as to amount to a disability.

Recent cases

Last year’s flurry of tribunal decisions, including the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision in Rooney v Leicester City Council that menopause symptoms can amount to a disability for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010 have put a spotlight on the menopause. As a result, no doubt like other employment teams, at Kingsley Napley we are seeing increasing enquiries from employees related to the effect of their menopause symptoms in the workplace and how they feel adversely treated by their colleagues and employer. We are also seeing more and more enquiries from employers as to the reasonable adjustments they should put in place in the workplace.

The new guidance

These recent cases have emboldened other potential claimants and made employers consider the risks. Employees can now bring claims for discrimination(indirect, direct, harassment or victimisation) on the grounds of sex, age and/or disability relating to the menopause (the latter, however, depending on the severity of the symptoms). That is why the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) guidance published at the end of February should be welcomed. It aims to offer much-needed clarification for employees and employers on the legal framework around the menopause in the workplace, as well as recommendations for reasonable adjustments and workplace support.

Many larger law firms have already introduced menopause policies, champions and support networks as an explicit acknowledgement of the reality of menopause symptoms and their impact on women in the workplace. My own firm, Kingsley Napley, perhaps unsurprisingly given it has a woman managing partner and a partnership comprising 55 per cent women, has put in place comprehensive resources (detailed on our menopause hub) to support women through this particular stage of their working life. We have access to a cool room, for example, to medical advice and counselling, the ability to ask for flexible working arrangements, if necessary, as well as mandatory training for all staff.

The measures recommended by the EHRC’s guidance are generally not costly to implement, but may make all the difference to ensure that women experiencing menopausal symptoms feel supported to remain in the workplace.


Women now form the majority of the workforce in most law firms and it is, therefore, in the business interest to support them through what can be very challenging times and to retain their talent. Much is being done in law firms to foster inclusive cultures, supporting people with specific challenges, whether that is as a working parent, someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or someone going through a divorce. Supporting menopausal women is an essential part of that. The menopause dialogue is simply one part of this bigger picture to make working in the law attractive to all talents, at all stages in their lives.

Emmanuelle Ries is an employment partner at Kingsley Napley