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£64,000 award for menopause discrimination

Guidance on Menopause Discrimination: Lessons from Lynskey v Direct Line Insurance Services Ltd

The topic of menopause discrimination is gaining attention, and for employers, understanding how this fits into existing discrimination laws is important. The case of Lynskey v Direct Line Insurance Services Ltd is instructive in this context.

Key Background:

Under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010), discrimination claims, including those related to menopause, can touch on several protected characteristics such as:

  • Age: Particularly when menopausal or post-menopausal individuals are treated differently.
  • Sex: Instances where a woman faces less favourable treatment due to menopause.
  • Disability: If menopause symptoms significantly affect an employee’s ability to carry out normal day to day tasks, they may qualify as a having a ‘disability’ (as defined in the Equality Act.

What’s Expected from Employers:

If an employee’s menopause symptoms classify them as “disabled” per the EqA 2010, employers might need to consider making reasonable adjustments. This can include:

  • Changing specific workplace practices or policies.
  • Making physical alterations to the workspace or equipment.
  • Providing aids to assist the employee.

Case Study – Lynskey v Direct Line Insurance Services Ltd:

Situation: Direct Line was found by an employment tribunal to have treated Ms. Lynskey unfavourably due to her menopause symptoms. Even though the company did offer some support, the tribunal felt more should have been done, such as:

  • Abandoning the performance procedure (which had judged her as ‘needs improvement’, a category that deined her a pay increase).
  • Lowering her targets.
  • Contemplating a change in her role.

Direct Line’s actions, including the poor performance rating and cessation of sick pay, were viewed as discriminatory.

Learning Points:

  1. Be proactive. Consider seeking insights from occupational health or an employee’s GP, especially if they are willing (as she was in this case).
  2. Always think about alternative roles or responsibilities that might better accommodate an employee’s needs.
  3. Making a decision? Ensure you can demonstrate how your choices are proportionate and necessary.

£64,000 award for menopause discrimination

With a substantial award of over £64,000 given to Ms. Lynskey, the case highlights the importance of understanding and acting on menopause-related discrimination.

What can employers learn from this case?

  1. Menopause symptoms that cause work performance to suffer could amount to a disability, where those symptoms cause a long term adverse effect on an individual’s ability to carry out normal day to day tasks.
  2. Aside from disability, other protected characteristics are potentially triggered by menopause, notably sex and age. Together with disability this heightens the risk of taking detrimental action against an employee.
  3. Employers should consider reasonable adjustments to account for a disability, and should have up to date medical information to aid decision making.

HR support from myHRdept

All of our retained payroll and HR contracts contain support hours which can be used to help and advise employers on cases like this one. We can organise access to occupational health assessments and we provide all of our retained clients with free training and education tools to supplement their menopause policy (which we provide as a standard part of employee handbooks)

The Benefits of outsourced HR & Payoll 

Outsourced HR & payroll has an obvious appeal to a smaller SME, being far cheaper than employing internal HR & payroll staff or engaging external solicitors. Larger employers benefit too, and myHRdept support employers with sizeable HR teams. We’re able to relieve HR staff of time-sapping ER cases, manage projects (e.g. consultations) and handle toxic investigations without the emotional toll internal staff might suffer. For many of our larger clients  we also manage settled exits, acting as the employer’s representative during exit discussions.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR, payroll or employment law needs, why not contact myHRdept? Call us on 01628 820515, email us at enquiries@myhrdept.co.uk to discuss your requirements, or contact us via our website and we’ll call you back.

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