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Menopause and The Workplace – Government Response To Committee Report

CG Professional


Minute Read

30 Jan 2023

On 28 July 2022, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) published a report, ‘Menopause and the Workplace,’ which, among other things, recommended that the Government should:

  • Appoint a ‘menopause ambassador’ to work with key stakeholders from business, unions and advisory groups to encourage and disseminate awareness, good practice and menopause guidance to employers.

  • In consultation with the menopause ambassador, produce model menopause policies to assist employers.

  • Work with a large public sector employer in developing and piloting a specific ‘menopause leave’ policy.

  • Immediately introduce a combined sex and age discrimination provision in s.14 of the Equality Act 2010 to create a single dual protected characteristic to protect women going through menopause.

  • Launch a consultation on how to amend the Equality Act 2010 to introduce menopause as a protected characteristic, including a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for employees experiencing the menopause.

The Government published its response to the report on 24 January 2023.

Among other things, it accepted the proposal to appoint a ‘menopause ambassador’ in principle, confirming that it will appoint a ‘menopause employment champion’, who will focus on matters specifically affecting employers to ensure that they are engaged and supported going forward. The menopause employment champion will be appointed ‘‘in due course.’’

The Government has not accepted WEC’s recommendation to produce model menopause policies as it does not believe that it is necessary at this moment, noting that many organisations, such as ACAS, have already developed workplace policies and guidance. However, it has stated that it is supportive of the aim to educate and inform employers and workplace colleagues about menopause symptoms, and how they can support women at work. An employer-led, Government-backed communications campaign on menopause in the workplace will be launched, although a timeframe is yet to be given.

It also rejected the recommendation for the development and piloting of a ‘menopause leave’ policy. It stated that its policy aim is to support menopausal women to remain in the workplace and, for this reason, it is concerned that a specific menopause leave policy may be counterproductive.

It has rejected the proposal for the implementation of the Equality Act 2010 combined discrimination provision, stating that the introduction of dual characteristics cannot be done piecemeal way under s.14.

Finally, the Government does not intend to launch a consultation on making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The Government agrees that it is important that women who suffer substantial and longer-term menopausal effects should be adequately protected from discrimination in the workplace. However, it is not satisfied that the evidence given to the WEC during its inquiry fully supports new legislation. It also expressed concern that such a move could have “unintended consequences which may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, for example, discrimination risks towards men suffering from long term medical conditions or eroding existing protections.”

According to a previous survey conducted by the Fawcett Society, 8 in 10 women reported that their employer had not shared information, provided any training or put in place a menopause policy. It is also worth considering that the number of tribunal cases which cited menopause increased by 44% in 2021, highlighting a potential rise in awareness.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Employment Team for assistance with menopause policies and guidance for your workplace.

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