The Government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report ‘Menopause and the Workplace’
The Committee had made the following recommendations to the Government:
- To appoint a ‘menopause employment champion’ who will drive forward work with employers, stakeholders from business, unions and advisory groups to encourage and disseminate awareness, good practice and menopause guidance to employers on menopause workplace issues and spearhead a proposed employer-led communications campaign.
- In consultation with the menopause ambassador/champion, the Government should produce model menopause policies.
- Work with a large public sector employer the Government to pilot a specific ‘menopause leave’ policy;
- Bring forward legislation to make flexible working a day one right and issue employers with guidance encouraging them to grant reasonable requests;
- Immediately bring into force section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 (combined discrimination: dual characteristics) to introduce sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic to protect women going through menopause;
- Launch a consultation making menopause a protected characteristic, including a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for menopausal employees.
The report also called on the Health and Safety Executive and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to provide guidance on menopause.
However, the Government has not accepted recommendations outlined at points 2,3,5 and 6 above. It does not believe a model menopause policy is necessary at present and has referred to other steps being taken by employers and organisations, including ACAS to develop workplace policies and guidance. Points 1 and 4 have been accepted.
The Government agrees that it is important that women who suffer substantial and longer-term menopausal effects should be adequately protected from discrimination in the workplace. However, it is not satisfied that the evidence given to the Committee during its inquiry supports new laws.
Many employers already have menopause champions, menopause policies and offer education regarding the menopause to employees. Employers who are not already doing so may wish to take a proactive approach to support menopausal women in the workplace to reduce the risk of grievances and claims being made despite the above.
For further information or to speak to a member of our Employment team, please call 01689 887812.