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Government Rejects Call to Make Menopause a Protected Characteristic Under Equality Act

The Government has recently responded to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report ‘Menopause in the Workplace’.

The report recommended that the Government should:

  • Appoint a ‘menopause ambassador’ to provide menopause guidance to employers
  • Produce menopause policies to assist employers
  • Work with a large public sector employer to pilot a specific ‘menopause leave policy’.
  • Immediately commence section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) to introduce sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic to protect women going through menopause; and
  • launch a consultation on how to amend the EqA to make menopause a protected characteristic

The Government’s Response

In acceptance of some of the suggestions listed above, the Government has confirmed that they will appoint a ‘menopause employment champion’ who will be the spearhead for a collaborative employer-led communications campaign on menopause. They anticipate that such ‘Champion’ will work closely with the Women’s Health Ambassador, with the Champion’s role focusing on matters specifically affecting employers to ensure they are engaged and supported, whilst the Ambassador will focus on engaging a broader range of stakeholders.

However, the Government has not accepted the Committee’s suggestions of producing model menopause policies or  the suggestion to commence S.14 EqA to protect women going through menopause. The Government stated that a model menopause policy was not currently necessary, referring to other steps being taken by employers and organisations such as Acas.

Although the Government agrees that it is important that women who suffer substantial and longer-term menopausal symptoms to be  protected from discrimination in the workplace, it is not satisfied that the evidence given to the Committee during its inquiry fully supports new legislation, and in particular that it did not support the introduction of menopause as a new protected characteristic.

For more information or advice on this issue, please contact one of our specialist employment lawyers directly. Alternatively you can call 0115 9 100 200 or click here to send an email.

Posted on January 31, 2023

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