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Menopause in the Workplace – an update

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Before Christmas we published an article regarding a recent menopause event hosted by Rollits and the guidance published by the NHS regarding menopause in the workplace. Today the Government has published a response to a report published in July 2022 by the Women and Equalities Commission which warned that the impact of menopause was causing the UK economy to “haemorrhage talent”.

Despite the Commission warning that urgent action is needed across healthcare and work settings to properly address women’s needs, five proposals put forward by the Committee were rejected in the Government’s response to the report, including the suggestion of introducing ‘menopause leave’. The Government stated that they accepted ‘in principle’ the committee’s recommendations to launch a public health campaign around menopause and to appoint a menopause ambassador to monitor progress made by businesses in this area, however it said that it was focused on encouraging employers to implement proper workplace menopause policies. The Government suggested that introducing specific menopause leave may be counterproductive to achieving this.

As stated in our previous blog, menopause itself is not listed as a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010 and in their response to the above mentioned report the Government refused a recommendation to make it one. However if an employee or worker suffers detrimental treatment as a result of their menopause symptoms this may be grounds for a discrimination claim on the grounds of age, disability, sex or gender reassignment. Those suffering from severe menopause symptoms may be deemed disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. This is why it is recommended that employers put in place proper procedures to sensitively and effectively deal with the impact of the menopause on its employees.

Indeed, according to a previous British Menopause Society survey, 45% of women indicated they felt their menopause symptoms had a negative impact on their work. Clearly it is something that cannot be left unaddressed. The chair of the Women and Equalities Commission has criticised the Government’s response to the recent report and has stated that it has “missed an opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce”.

If you would like assistance putting in place Menopause policies and procedures within your business, please contact our dedicated employment team who are well placed to advise on such matters.

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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