The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry into the extent of discrimination faced by menopausal people in the workplace, and how government policy and workplace practices can better support those experiencing the menopause. The inquiry follows calls from trade unions to look at the issue, and a 2019 survey conducted by BUPA and the CIPD. The survey found that three in every five women are negatively impacted at work as a result of their menopausal symptoms. It also found that the lack of support offered to menopausal women resulted in approximately 900,000 of them leaving their jobs and had a knock-on effect on the gender-pay gap. The issue is also thought to have an impact on diversity at executive level (as often the menopause will hit around the time when women are at the peak of their careers).
Currently, there is no specific protection in place for people going through the menopause. Protection is offered under the Equality Act 2010, where a menopausal person can establish discrimination on the grounds of age, sex or (possibly) disability. Additionally, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty on employers to protect the health, safety and welfare of all their employees. This will include those experiencing menopausal symptoms.
The cross-party Committee’s inquiry will scrutinise the existing legislation and business practices to draw up recommendations as to what more can be done. In doing so, the inquiry will consider the societal, business and economic impact of discrimination faced by menopausal people. Written submissions to the inquiry can be made here until 17 September 2021.