Menopause in the Workplace

Happy International Women’s Day 2024!

Today, the world praises women’s achievements and raises awareness about gender equality and women’s rights.


In honour of this important day, this blog will discuss the legal protection offered to those who suffer from menopause in the workplace. This blog will also consider the recent guidance published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).


What is Menopause and How Can It Affect People at Work?

According to the NHS, menopause is a biological process where periods stop. Generally, people start to experience symptoms of menopause between their mid-forties and mid-fifties. Menopause is often not short-term, and for some, symptoms can last for up to a decade. During this time, some experience symptoms such as hot flushes and brain fog. Furthermore, perimenopause is when the body prepares for menopause, meaning that even before it commences, it is possible to suffer from symptoms of menopause.


Often, these menopausal symptoms will be experienced during one’s working life. This could make completing day-to-day work more challenging. Indeed, some have argued that a lack of support for workers experiencing menopause could cause people to lose confidence, feel ill and feel forced to end their employment. Problematically, people often find it difficult to talk about menopause in the workplace. This raises the question as to what type of legal protection exists.

What is the Law Around Menopause?

Currently, there are no specific protections afforded to those experiencing menopausal symptoms at work. However, it has been suggested by some that the Equality Act 2010 (the ‘2010 Act’) may indirectly offer protection to those affected. Furthermore, the EHRC has recently published guidance on the legal framework around menopause for employers. To understand the extent of the protection offered, some context of the 2010 Act must be given.


The Equality Act 2010

The 2010 Act was created to protect people from discrimination, victimisation and harassment. The 2010 Act outlines nine ‘protected characteristics’ including age, disability, sex, and race. If an employer discriminates against people based on these characteristics, they may face legal proceedings under the 2010 Act.


Importantly, some have argued that menopausal symptoms may fall under the protected characteristics of ‘disability’ and/or ‘sex’.  The 2010 Act outlines that, a person has a disability if a physical or mental impairment has a ‘substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on that person’s daily life. Therefore, as outlined in Davies v Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service (2018), the 2010 Act may offer protection to those dismissed by their employer due to the effects of menopause on their work performance.


If the 2010 Act deems someone with menopause symptoms as having a ‘disability’, their employer will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments. The EHRC has recently issued guidance on what these adjustments may consist of. For example:


  • Employers may consider creating safe places where those affected by menopause can go to rest and take a break when their symptoms become overwhelming.
  • Adjustments may be made to shift patterns. This could mean allowing people to work from home where necessary.
  • A menopause-aware work culture could be created by having conversations with staff. This could help employers gauge what support is needed.


These adjustments, in principle, could increase the available support for people in the workplace. Some expect that this increased support will enable employees to feel more comfortable, reduce the impact of menopause and produce a more productive workforce.


Furthermore, if someone with menopause symptoms does not qualify as having a ‘disability’, protection may still be offered under the characteristic of ‘sex’. For instance, if employers do not implement reasonable adjustments for those with menopause symptoms, then they could be specifically disadvantaged in the workplace. On this note, the EHRC suggest that disciplinary action due to menopause-related absence could constitute discrimination under the 2010 Act.

How Well Does the Equality Act 2010 Deal with Menopause?

Some have argued that the recent successful cases on menopause discrimination indicate that the 2010 Act offers sufficient protection. However, others argue that due to there being no standalone, protected characteristic of ‘menopause’, protection under the 2010 Act may be a difficult bar to reach. For instance, people must sufficiently prove that their menopause symptoms are severe enough to be caught under the definition of ‘disability’. Equally, some argue that linking menopausal symptoms under the characteristic of ‘sex’ may not protect transgender people.



In celebration of International Women’s Day, this blog has outlined what menopause is and how it affects people in the workplace. Equally, this blog has outlined some of the measures, recommended by the EHCR, that employers can take to support their employees in navigating this condition. It has also outlined that some argue that the Equality Act 2010 offers sufficient protection against discrimination. However, to give people further protection, others contend that ‘menopause’ should become a protected characteristic.



Written by Niamh Crossan LLB 2, Law Clinic Volunteer, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024.

Edited by Alan Winnie LLB 3, Street Law Manager & Student Adviser.

Special thanks to Louisa Richardson LLB 2, Assistant Media Manager, and to all the volunteers across the Clinic who helped to create and research for this blog.

Endometriosis in the Workplace

Endometriosis impacts 1 out of every 10 women during their reproductive years. Endometriosis impacts more than 1.5 million women in the UK, yet there remains a notable lack of awareness surrounding this condition. Endometriosis occurs when cells similar to those lining the womb develop in other parts of the body, causing inflammation and scar tissue. Thankfully, society is becoming more knowledgeable about the condition thanks to efforts like Endometriosis Awareness Month (March 1 – March 31). Moreover, the participation of numerous celebrities in promoting awareness has inspired women to openly share their experiences. Rozie Corbett, the Head of Development at Endometriosis UK, recognises the difficulty in addressing this issue but stresses its importance.

An initiative called the Endometriosis Friendly Employer Scheme has been introduced to enable companies to showcase their commitment to fostering a workplace atmosphere and ethos that aids the well-being of employees with endometriosis. Over 80 companies, such as BBC Scotland, HSBC UK, and British Airways, have already incorporated this. Endometriosis UK provides guidance to employers on how to support employees with endometriosis and improve the work environment in three key areas with their programme.

  1. Having the backing of leaders and managers within the organisation.
  2. Addressing social stigma and transforming societal norms is crucial for creating a more inclusive society.
  3. Sharing information between individuals.

Having strong leadership and management support is essential to ensure the employer’s dedication to becoming an Endometriosis Friendly Employer and to facilitate significant change. One way for businesses to show support for employees with endometriosis is by evaluating, revising, and putting into action policies that address their unique requirements. It is essential to equip managers with pertinent information and guidance to effectively assist individuals with endometriosis. One way to demonstrate support is by providing flexible working arrangements for individuals with endometriosis, whenever possible.

By tackling social stigma and reshaping societal norms, individuals with the illness can gain a sense of empowerment and confidence to discuss their condition openly with their supervisor. One effective approach is to designate an endometriosis advocate who can act as a point of contact and offer valuable information. This initiative aims to help individuals shift their mindsets and keep up with the current pace, demonstrating employers’ enthusiasm for inclusivity in the workforce. It is important for businesses to proactively support employees and managers in having open conversations about menstrual issues to break the stigma surrounding this topic.

Effective communication plays a crucial role in raising awareness about endometriosis, the support services available, and how to access them. Having a good understanding of an issue is essential for creating a workplace where employees feel comfortable addressing it. Individuals who desire to expand their knowledge can now feel confident in seeking support within their workplace. As a result, the chances of fostering a culture defined by trust and support will rise, highlighting the firm’s commitment to providing reassurance to both current and prospective employees.


Written By Kiran Sanghera 

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

Glasgow Caledonian University Law Journal for Law and the Common Good

The Journal consists of articles covering a broad range of legal areas. The aim is to create a diverse bank of legal research to demonstrate the work of our students in a way which simultaneously engages the university’s common good objectives. All eligible submissions are encouraged and appreciated, and special thanks is given for particularly impressive work.

Journal for Law and the Common Good


Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is a problem within the majority of workplaces, and a remaining issue in the legal field. It is an issue which results in woman being disadvantaged based solely on their gender. It should be noted that this pay gap is extensive in its coverage, it is not based on solely annual incomes but also covers bonuses, which woman can receive much lower in comparison to men, this is exemplified in a report produced by the Law Society which provides that in 2020 the average gap between the value of men’s and women’s bonuses was 39.4%.1 As this has proven to be a significant issue affecting woman from being disadvantaged from annual pay all the way to bonuses being affected, there have been many proposals for change such as the Women in Law Pledge which was launched in 2019. This pledge supports woman receiving equality within the legal field and strives for change, including the gender pay gap and gender equality as a whole, which consists of 8 pledges which legal organisations can sign up to, one being “ensuring aspects of pay, reward and recognition of the senior leadership are linked to delivery against these gender equality targets as applicable”, legal organisations which sign up to these pledges, in turn ensure supporting woman in the profession and sets clear plans around reaching sufficient gender pay equality.2 Despite many actions to change this unjust pay gap, issues still remain within the legal profession.


Next 100 years and Gapsquare, a pay analytics company have provided new research about closing the gender pay gap in the legal profession, analysing hourly pay rates provided by law firms. They found that the legal sector has one of the largest gender pay gaps of any industry which is currently at 25.4%.3 This figure has remained pretty much the same since 2017 and women have represented more than half of all solicitors since this year also. This is concerning as additionally the majority of new entrants to the legal profession are in fact women, yet only a small proportion are making senior roles. It is clear that something needs to be done to tackle this issue as the survey found that 84% of women did not think they would see pay equality until the next generation or beyond. This is supplemented by Next 100 years and Gapsquares estimation that it will take 86 years to close the mean gender pay gap and 40.6 years to close the median. These figures show that the gender pay gap is real and seriously demotivating for women in law.


The current position with regards to the gender pay gap is still a big issue in our society. Studies suggest that there has been some improvement over the years in reducing the gap between the pay male and females receive, however this varies from year to year. Results from the office of national statistics show that the gender pay gap has reduced by a quarter on average between all employees in the last decade, however the results from 2022 show that among full-time employees there was an increase from 7.7% in 2021 to 8.3% in 2022.4 This proves that despite a steady decline, realistically there has not been a vast improvement to decrease this pay gap.


There are recommendations for reducing this gap which consist of women doing more negotiation in terms of their pay to achieve a higher salary however it is our opinion that this is placing the blame on women and using this as a reason to explain the gender pay gap. A more reasonable solution to the problem would be for managers and CEOs of these companies to recognise the seriousness of the issue and ensure that the gender pay gap is non-existent in their companies. If every workplace put an effort in to make a reduction to the pay gap it is likely the results of a reduction would be much more convincing of change taking place. This issue is one which has been around since the beginning of time and unfortunately does not show much proof of disappearing any time soon.

Written by Rebecca Kenney, Brooke Keane and Fiza Ali

British Sign Language, Ananda Bruce

At the start of the academic year 2021/22, the GCU Law Clinic volunteers started learning British Sign Language(BSL) to make our services more accessible.

Claire McFadzean, Academic Director of the Clinic, had always planned on volunteers being able to sign within the clinic. During the pandemic, the Law Clinic have moved their services online. The online BSL training course offered by British Sign meant our students could participate from home, making the Clinic more inclusive. Claire and the then student director Lucy Mackay, pushed for the volunteers to take advantage of this opportunity.

Learning BSL was not only fun and engaging but a great life skill to have. The videos were really easy to understand and follow and there were plenty of resources provided in the course. Students have started to create short videos signing a message about the clinic. Ananda, Taylor and Magda are some of the students who have completed the course and their videos are shown below.

We know we have a lot to learn and we are really keen to keep getting better. Everyone deserves access to justice, and we hope this project contributes to that.

LawScot COP26 Conference

On Friday 29th October the Law Society of Scotland COP26 Conference was held in the EICC. The event sought to cover the modern lawyer’s role in tackling the impact of climate change. A range of speakers were invited to attend. Included were former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates Roddy Dunlop QC and GCU’s own Dr. Angela O’Hagan.


In light of COP26 which is currently well underway in Glasgow (see GCU Law Clinic social media for more info), a sense of urgency could be felt. Law-making, legal interventions and litigation in the climate crisis were discussed at length. This demonstrated the breadth of influence lawyers have on environmental policy.

One session of particular interest to me was a discussion on how tackling climate change can be part of legal education. Incorporating discussion of the climate crisis into the legal curriculum could work to ensure the next generation of lawyers is better prepared for the climate emergency, embodying the theme of proactive change underlying the event.

It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the seriousness of the subject matter. For Glaswegians, the passion of demonstrators has been particularly visible over the last few weeks. The event didn’t shy away from the crisis, but did focus on what legal professionals can proactively do, which gave a hopeful note to proceedings. It was an honour to be invited (thanks Seonaid!). I very much look forward to continuing to focus on this important topic within the GCU Law Clinic, thinking about what lawyers and law students can do to tackle the crisis. I will look to my future legal career enlightened by the knowledge imparted by the inspiring individuals who took the time to share their ideas.

Emily Ward, Project Manager @GCULawClinic

Twitter @wxrec

Law Clinic: #PassTheBadge Campaign


The GCU Law Clinic is proud to be taking part in the Law Society of Scotland’s #PassTheBadge campaign. It’s important that we talk about mental health and promote wellbeing for law students and lawyers.

Our Management Team have put together some of our top tips that we have found helpful in looking after our wellbeing and mental health during what has been a really hard few months.

  1. Lockdown has had an impact on all of us and it’s been easy to feel overwhelmed by the news. Lots of us have taken up new and (old!) hobbies to channel our energy in positive ways: we’ve started playing the piano again; taken up sewing; worked on artistic projects; and lots of us have been baking.  It’s a good way to escape from our screens and take some time for ourselves.
  2. Exercise – especially walking – has been really good for our mental health over the last few months. Getting outside can give us the space we need to feel healthier and happier.
  3. Bringing the outside in also helps a few of us with our mental health. Looking after houseplants can be calming and can give you a sense of purpose while we’re all at home a lot more.
  4. Reading (for pleasure – not study!) can be another great distraction when you’re feeling anxious. It can help you break with the news cycle and divert your brain for a little while.
  5. We also find it useful to limit our use of social media – setting time limits on certain apps can help you step away from the screen and do something that makes you feel good.
  6. Making lists really helps with the feeling of being overwhelmed. It can help you feel more in control and help you set achievable goals.
  7. It’s also really important to take time to pause. Take time away from work or study and give yourself a break.  It’s important to make sure you plan some time for yourself every week.
  8. It is also really important to take some time to talk to your loved ones – check in with the people you care about and talk about how you are feeling.
  9. Mindfulness is a great way of taking stock of your current situation and helps you to live in the moment and not worry about things that may or may not happen in the future.
  10. If you need support – reach out to the University. You can find out about mental health and wellbeing services at GCU here

If you would like to learn more about the campaign check out these links: and

Campaign for Complainer Anonymity

Would it surprise you to learn that complainers in sexual offence cases have no automatic right to anonymity in Scotland? This Campaign begins with a simple statement of fact. The idea that complainers “automatically have a right to anonymity under UK law” is often referred to in Scotland – but it has no foundation in Scots law.

We believe this situation is highly problematic. We believe something as important as complainer anonymity should not have to rely on journalists following professional codes of practice, or the general public’s self-restraint on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

In our experience, most people are shocked to discover that people in Scotland who allege they have been victims of sexual offences have no legal right to anonymity. While Scottish courts can make orders prohibiting the identification of complainers under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, these orders are not automatic and are not sought in the overwhelming majority of cases. This leaves a critical gap in our law. Scottish complainers are exposed to an acute risk of being publicly identified in connection with the case, without any effective legal remedy.

We think this is a problem Holyrood can fix – and fix fairly easily.

As a result we are establishing the Campaign for Complainer Anonymity led by lecturers in law Dr. Andrew Tickell and Seonaid Stevenson-McCabe, working with our GCU law students.

We will engage with the wider public and complainers to look at what anonymity means to them – are Scots aware of the law as it stands? How does this impact on decision-making about disclosure? How should the law be reformed?

We will also work with students to put the Scottish experience in its wider legal context by looking at how other jurisdictions across the world handle the issue of restrictions of publicising the identity of complainers or publishing material likely to identify them. This will help us think critically about what any law reform efforts in Scotland could and should look like.

There are different models for how Scots Law can be changed, better to protect complainer anonymity and more clearly to set out the rights and responsibilities of people writing about these criminal cases. This campaign aims to identify and progress concrete legislative reforms which can be adopted by the Scottish Government and Parliament to update the law, better to reflect public understandings and attitudes towards this important issue.

We will soon be launching our dedicated Campaign website but, if you want further information about the Campaign in the meantime, please contact: Seonaid Stevenson-McCabe Dr. Andrew Tickell

Professional Links Module – Work Experience Sought






At Glasgow Caledonian University we thrive on ideas and support innovation. We also value the importance of social responsibility. Students come to us from all backgrounds, for our knowledge and experience and to enhance their career and personal ambitions.  Our external partners come to us to find the latest research-led thinking and to access the talent of our students.

This year more than ever, we are reaching out to our external partners and beyond, to enable us to continue to offer our law students the best possible experience, despite these difficult and uncertain times.

As part of our LLB curriculum, we offer employability sessions within our modules. Professional Links is one such unique module. The module is designed to allow students to gain academic credit towards their degree based on practical experience.  The GCU LLB programme is highly committed to widening access to the Scottish legal profession, both in terms of studying and career progression and the need to find opportunities for our students has never been greater. There is real benefit to students being able to undertake a short placement in a law firm, shadow experienced solicitors and gaining first-hand experience of law at work. The majority of our students do not have family or personal connections within the legal sector.   At GCU we work tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide our students with work experience to help prepare them for life after university but, more importantly, to assist them with securing future training contracts.  Research has shown experiential learning to be a powerful tool, which complements the theory being studied. It also shows the benefit to host firms from gaining flexible, motivated and talented students.

If you are employed in the legal sector, whether a solicitor, Advocate or HR Manager, who is able to offer our students an appropriate short term placement, virtual or otherwise, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact Claire McFadzean, Academic Director of the Law Clinic and Module Leader on by 30th September 2020. Claire will provide further details and discuss arrangements.


In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to reach out and help.





‘Women in Law Wednesday’ Dr. Karla Perez Portilla

This week’s ‘Women in Law Wednesday’ is Dr. Karla Perez Portilla, who has been a lecturer here at GCU Law since October 2018. We were keen to talk to her not only because of how her career relates to law, but because of how her legal work intersects with social justice. In fact, we approached her for the project after she delivered an extremely interesting lecture on ‘Feminism and Jurisprudence’ to LLB3 last semester. Karla has given some brilliant and insightful answers about her career progression and what it means to be a woman in law.

Karla explains that her ‘career started in Mexico researching and teaching Constitutional Law, Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’. She has also ‘been a guest lecturer at the University of Strathclyde and Teaching Fellow at University College London, Faculty of Law’ which is where she completed her PhD. When asked about her career journey, Karla explained once she had graduated it was not easy to find a job in the UK. On top of this, she was also a new mum. She ‘therefore started volunteering, and little by little, I built my reputation in Glasgow, combining my academic experience with ‘hands-on’ work for the third sector’. Her work in the third sector consisted of prejudice reduction programmes, delivering training and implementing and evaluating interventions. She was a community practitioner which, she explains, ‘was a role that has enriched and informed my teaching methods and approaches’. She has brought this experience she speaks of into her role at GCU Law.

We asked Karla what she believes her greatest achievements were in her career journey so far. She explains that as she likes thinking and developing ideas and theories with practical application that a highlight in her career has been to have published two different single author books with renowned publishing house – one in English and one in Spanish. She explains, ‘it is unusual to publish a book based on an LLB dissertation in Mexico and having published a revised version of my PhD thesis with Routledge, is equally joyful.’ Further to this Karla explains that the revised version allowed her to ‘expand the linguistic extent of her contributions to legal knowledge’ and demonstrate her ‘commitment to social justice and academic rigour’.

There are various reasons, Karla says, for why these publications were a highlight in her career but she notes two specific reasons. Firstly, ‘the crave for and the difficulties in achieving recognition as a woman of colour’ and secondly because it has given her the opportunity to use her books ‘in academic settings and within the wider community in international and local conferences, specialised courses, training programmes, academic modules and diplomas both in Mexico and in the UK.’

In response to a question about gender balance in the LLB, Karla explains that there is not much difference between the students at GCU Law and the students where she completed her degree in Mexico, ‘there are still many women at the beginning of a law degree and very few making it to the top, in virtually all sectors.’ An interesting insight into the universality of the issue.

We next wanted to ask Karla about whether she has ever felt disadvantaged as a woman in law, ‘as a woman generally and as a woman from an ethnic minority background in the UK, I have always felt that I have to work harder, stay longer, excel, etc… I have felt this pressure both in Mexico and in the UK.’ On the other hand, she feels that ‘being a woman from an ethnic minority background with experience of migration has helped me make meaningful contributions to academia and in practice. Lived experience coupled with rigorous research and practical work allows us to provide valuable insights in order to bring about positive exchange.’ She finishes her answer with an interesting insight; ‘I think it is fair to say that, to a large extent, lived experience is a basic ingredient for bringing about social justice.’

Finally, as we ask all our interviewees, we asked Karla what being a woman in law meant to her:

‘It means the need to recognise that being a woman is a range of experiences shaped by skin colour, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion, etc.

For me, being a woman in law means a desire and the possibility to make the understanding and use of such terms, one that actually includes the diversity, roles and identities of women. I believe that we have to make a conscious effort to identify, seek to portray and celebrate the experiences of those overlooked or marginalised. It would be useful to make the most of the concept of intersectionality, as coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, in order to include and make visible a range of real lived experiences, histories, challenges and achievements.’

We thank Karla for her valuable contribution to the project. We hope that her inspired words have provoked thought about how the law can be used for social justice.

By Lucy Mackay LLB3