The UK Parliament's Women and Equalities Committee published a report in July 2022 which made a number of proposals including that the Equality Act 2010 be amended to include menopause as a protected characteristic.
The current protected characteristics under the Equality Act are: age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion/belief, marriage/civil partnership, disability, pregnancy/maternity and race.
Another proposal put forward by the Committee was that the Government should work with a large public sector employer to "develop and pilot a specific menopause leave policy." The Committee stated that the Government was making "glacial progress" on menopause support and highlighted the UK economy was "haemorrhaging talent" due to the menopause.
The UK Government has rejected the proposals, along with other recommendations from the Committee. In its response, the Government made reference to its women's health strategy for England and that it was already focused on encouraging employers to introduce workplace menopause policies.
This response will be disappointing for many but employers should remember that under the current law, women going through the menopause could potentially raise discrimination claims on the grounds of disability, sex, age and, depending on the circumstances, a successful unfair dismissal claim.
I wrote about this previously in this article (link).
Our team can provide advice and assistance to any employer who is wishing to introduce a menopause policy or is dealing with a specific situation with an employee. Please get in touch for an initial conversation about how we can help.