On 24 January 2023, the Government published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report ‘Menopause and the Workplace’.
The ‘Menopause and the Workplace’ report, published on 28 July 2022, made six recommendations, including that the Government should:
- appoint a “menopause ambassador” to work with stakeholders from businesses, unions and advisory groups to increase awareness, promote good practice and menopause guidance to employers;
- work with a large public sector employer to pilot a specific “menopause leave” policy;
- introduce sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 to protect women going through menopause; and
- launch a consultation on how to amend the Equality Act 2010 to make menopause a protected characteristic in itself.
The Government’s response confirms that it will appoint a “menopause employment champion” to increase awareness by working with employers on workplace issues relating to the menopause. However, the Government has not accepted the recommendation to produce model menopause policies, but has instead suggested that other steps be taken by employers and organisations, including ACAS, to develop workplace policies and guidance. The Government has also rejected the recommendation regarding amendments to the Equality Act, both in respect of introducing sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic, and regarding a consultation on making menopause a protected characteristic in itself.
This governmental response, in summary, does not change the legal position as it currently stands, and suggests that the law in this area will not change in the near future. However, it is important for employers to be aware that issues relating to the menopause including the symptoms of menopause may already be protected by the law, namely the Equality Act 2010, as it currently stands. For example, women who suffer substantial and longer-term menopausal effects may be classed as disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. If so, and this will be judged on a case by case basis, women suffering with menopausal symptoms will be protected from discrimination relating to the same, and employers will be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments in their workplace.
Employers need, therefore, to be aware of these issues. It is advisable for employers to be pro-active by putting a menopause policy in place now, and carry out training/ educate its workforce on these issues.
If you would like further guidance on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact our employment team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more of the latest updates on employment law, check out the rest of our articles!