Menopause A Incapacity? What Newest Tribunal Ruling Means For Employers

Released: May 27, 2018

David Southall

May 25, 2018

Menopause was on the news recently after the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England used the word to describe his negative view of the economy, which sparked a debate about the nature of menopause and how they approach it. He later apologized and regretted the age and sexist undertones of his comment. Contributor David Southall, Employment Law Advisor – ELAS Group.

The discussion will no doubt resume after an Employment Tribunal ruled that a Scottish Court and Tribunal Service employee was discriminated against because of her menopause. Mandy Davies had worked for SCTS for 20 years but was fired last year for gross misconduct. She took the case to a tribunal, claiming she had been discriminated against because of her disability due to her menopause. The judge ruled that she had been wrongly fired and granted her £ 19,000 on the grounds that she should get her job back.

David Southall is an employment law advisor at ELAS Group. He says, “The coverage of this case is very detailed. However, employers with good management in mind shouldn’t be too preoccupied with considering whether or not menopause is a disability. What can be defined as a disability by the social security agency or an outraged tabloid journalist doesn’t help when it comes to managing an employee who underperforms or behaves in a challenging manner. The question for employers should not be whether menopause is a disability, but rather whether the worker they are trying to manage fairly has a medical history that indicates a disability under the Equal Opportunities Act.

“The criteria by which a tribunal determines whether or not someone is disabled are legal, although medical evidence has also been consulted. Some illnesses are automatically classified as disabilities by the Equal Opportunities Act, e.g. B. Type A diabetes, HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis. All other conditions are assessed based on the effect their symptoms have on a person.

“The baseline is that the medical condition is a physical or mental impairment that has a significant and long-term negative impact on a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities. Essential is more than trivial, e.g. B. it takes longer than usual for someone to get dressed, and in the long run it means that a person has been affected for over 12 months. Daily tasks are not limited to work-related tasks. Therefore, someone can possibly take on all normal tasks and still be disabled within the meaning of the Gender Equality Act. So whether or not menopause is viewed as a disability depends precisely on how it affects an individual woman at this stage in her life.

“In this case, Ms. Davies clearly had more extreme and damaging effects of menopause than others. Her employer should have taken this into account before considering what action to take regarding her behavior, which was at the heart of the case. Similar to people suffering from depression, it is the severity of the effects of the condition on the individual, and not just whether or not depression is a disability.

“The main thing that employers need to get out of this case is that they need to consider all aspects of a worker’s situation before making any decisions regarding their employment. What at first glance may be considered unacceptable behavior may require a more nuanced response than simply referring to the employee handbook for a list of dismissable behavior. “

Receive more HR-related news and content with our monthly enewsletter (e-letter)

Comments are closed.