Legal update – Government response to Menopause and the Workplace consultation
The government has now published its response to the consultation carried out by the Women and Equalities Committee on ‘Menopause and the Workplace’.
The report from the WEC made several recommendations which they believed would help alleviate the struggles faced by woman in the workplace who are experiencing menopausal symptoms. The government largely rejected the proposals put forth in the report. A summary of the key proposals rejected are as follows:
- The government does not agree they should produce model ‘menopause policies’ for employers to adopt. They expressed this is available from other bodies, namely ACAS;
- The proposal to pilot menopause leave in a public sector body in England was rejected;
- The recommendation for menopause to exist as a standalone protected characteristic was rejected. The government expressed that woman with adverse side effects of menopause should be protected, but did not feel that this substantiated the addition of a new protected characteristic;
- The government also rejected the idea of bringing s.14 of the Equality Act 2010 into force which would allow combined discrimination relying on dual protected characteristics of sex and age.
The government did agree to appoint a ‘Menopause Champion’ to work directly with employers on the issue of menopause and to initiate government backed campaigns on menopause in the workplace.
Despite the lack of fundamental change as a result of the consultation, menopause in the workplace is still a topic generating a lot of discussion in the realm of employment law. Employers can offer support in a number of ways including: introducing a menopause policy; introducing training to raise awareness of the impact of menopause; considering reasonable adjustments for affected employees; and consult with your workforce to find out how you may offer support as an employer.
Please contact our Legal & HR Team if you would like any further information on ways you can support employees experiencing menopausal symptoms.