We recently wrote a blog on the government’s response to the independent report “Menopause and the workplace: how to enable fulfilling working lives” which was published in November 2021.
Subsequently, on 28 July 2022, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee published its own report Menopause and the workplace following its inquiry that was launched in July 2021 (Report).
The Report emphasises the Committee’s view that there are actions employers should already be taking to help employees. It highlights the risk of reputational damage and discrimination claims for employers who overlook the menopause. The Report is not however supportive of mandatory menopause policies.
The Report also highlights the Committee’s disappointment that the proposed Employment Bill has not progressed and urges the government to ensure the Bill becomes law before the end of the current parliament. The Bill would, amongst other measures, make the right to request flexible working a day-one right. The Committee considers this will be of assistance to menopausal women.
The Report also calls on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Health and Safety Executive to publish guidance on the menopause within the next six months. In addition, it calls on the government to appoint a Menopause Ambassador to take positive steps such as to produce model menopause policies and trial menopause leave within large public sector employers.
As current legislation does not specifically protect menopausal women, the Report makes it clear that the Committee believes that it is unsatisfactory that these women have to present themselves as having a disability to make an effective claim. It states that the government should also “immediately” implement section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 which would enable dual discrimination claims. They consider this would help establish discrimination protection for the menopause by enabling age and gender to be linked.
The Committee is also pressing the government to consult on adding the menopause as a protected characteristic in its own right.
It is unlikely that the Report’s proposals to reform legislation will be taken forward as the government has confirmed that it has no intention of amending the Equality Act 2010 (see blog). Despite this, a Women’s Health Ambassador for England has been appointed and will form part of the recently established UK Menopause Taskforce.
If you have any questions or would benefit from guidance in supporting employees going through menopause transition, our PRM team would be happy to help, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.