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Government: menopause is not a protected characteristic

In July 2022, the Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) published a report which recommended that the Government take action to protect and encourage menopausal individuals at work. These calls were dismissed by the Government, who rejected several of the WEC’s recommendations in its response to their report in January 2023.

After reviewing the Government’s response, the WEC commented that:

  • The requirement for employers to produce menopause policies and to pilot menopause leave would have been inexpensive to implement and effective; 
  • They are alarmed by the Government’s rejection to make menopause a protected characteristic given that the evidence provided clearly demonstrated that menopausal women are inadequately protected by the law; and
  • The Government’s conclusion – that allowing the menopause to become a protected characteristic would discriminate against men with long-term health conditions – was unfounded. The WEC specifically noted that menopause is not a form of long-term ill health but an inevitable part of all women’s life course.

The Government has however made some allowances, including making flexible working a day one right and allowing employees to make two flexible working requests within a 12-month period instead of one.