The 'Menopause and the Workplace' report received significant attention from the press and campaigners when it was published by the Women and Equalities Committee in July 2022. The report made 12 recommendations, six of which have been accepted by the Government including:
- The Government will launch a public health campaign to provide accurate information about the menopause including the symptoms and details of how to seek treatment and other help such as support at work. This could be a useful resource for employers who wish to increase staff understanding of the issues and signpost reliable resources to their employees.
- Additional support will be available within the NHS for women experiencing menopause, including better support from GPs, additional treatments and changes to current treatments.
- The Government will appoint a Menopause Employment Champion to work with employers on issues specifically related to the workplace. The response clearly states that the purpose of this role will be to encourage 'employer-led' action, so we do not anticipate that this will lead to further changes being imposed on employers.
The Women and Equalities Committee report recommended that menopause be included as a 'protected characteristic' and that claims for discrimination on the basis of two characteristics (such as age and sex) be permitted. However, the Government have confirmed that there will be no consultation on changes to the Equality Act 2010, and a 12-month trial of a 'menopause leave' policy within a public sector employer was also rejected.
The response suggests that introducing these legal protections could result in unintended consequences, including discriminating against other groups, and that the Government's focus is on 'encouraging' employers to support women.