Last week the government published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s report - "Menopause and the workplace".
The committee published its report in July 2022. Despite some of the recommendations being accepted by the government, the main recommendations have been rejected. These include making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and producing a model menopause policy.
The government has not accepted the committee’s recommendation to produce a model menopause policy. It commented that employers can and are already developing their own policies. It felt efforts could be better spent on sharing best practice and using a menopause employment champion (see below).
The government commented that under the Equality Act, menopausal discrimination is largely covered under three protected characteristics: age, sex and disability discrimination. Consequently, the government felt that menopausal women are already protected under existing legislation and creating a new protected characteristic was unnecessary. Further, the government has not accepted the Committee’s recommendation to launch a consultation on making menopause a protected characteristic.
Appointment of a menopause champion
The government did accept the committee recommendation to appoint a "menopause employment champion" to work alongside stakeholders from business, unions and advisory groups. The champion would spread awareness, good practice and menopause guidance to employers. The government is looking to appoint a menopause employment champion in due course and said it was supportive in principle of having a six-monthly report on progress made by businesses, including examples of good practice.
The menopause has become a topical subject for many employers in the last few years. We wait to see what the appointed menopause champion will do. In the meantime, do check out our S&B People Podcast here. In this episode, we discuss the impact of the menopause in the workplace and the practical steps that employers can take to manage their exposure to menopause related claims and to limit the risk and cost of losing valued and experienced members of staff.