Is Your Dress Policy Liable for Discrimination?

Friday 28th October 2022

If your dress policy requires menopausal women to wear uncomfortable or poorly designed uniforms, you could face claims of indirect discrimination and even discrimination arising from a disability.

Furthermore, you could face claims under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which says that an employer must, where reasonably practical, ensure everyone’s welfare at work.

Menopause is a period of transition in which a woman’s oestrogen levels decline resulting in an end to her menstrual cycle. Menopause most commonly occurs in women over the age of 50, although it can occur much earlier and symptoms can last for a number of years. During this period, and for a period of time prior (known as perimenopause), women can experience a range of physical and mental symptoms such as low mood, brain fog, memory issues, and difficulty sleeping – these can have a significant impact on their everyday activities. This, therefore, means that a woman suffering from menopause can sometimes meet the definition of a disability.

As one of the main symptoms of menopause is suffering from severe hot flashes, employers should consider whether their dress policy is appropriate or whether lighter-weight fabric or different colours for clothing would be easier to wear. If you have in place a policy that is more detrimental for a certain group, in this case, women who are suffering from menopause, then you will need to be able to justify that policy. Where employers are unable to justify such policy they could face claims of indirect discrimination on the basis of sex or age, and discrimination arising from a disability if the definition of a disability under Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 is met.


Each case will be assessed on its own merits and not every woman suffering from menopausal symptoms will meet the definition of a disability. However, it is wise to consider that they might fall within the definition and avoid the risk of discrimination.

If you would like any advice on this subject or would like us to review your dress policy in light of this, please do get in touch with a member of the team who will be happy to help.