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Labour’s action plan

In an attempt to support menopausal women in work, the Labour Party have vowed that if they are successful in the next election, they will require all large companies with over 250 employees to implement and publish a “menopause action plan”. The action plan, if implemented, will require employers to set out how they intend to support menopausal employees.

The 2021 Labour Force Survey found that menopausal workers make up 11% of all people in employment, and recent research from BUPA has found that nearly one million women had left employment as a direct result of their menopause symptoms and a lack of support from their employers.

In order to support menopausal individuals, employers could:

  • Create an internal support system – this could be laid out in a menopause policy, and could point employees to individuals or “champions” who are experienced and/or trained to support their individual needs or offer guidance;
  • Consider implementing reasonable adjustments, depending on the individual’s symptoms. For example, these could include the provision of cool air fans, regular breaks, access to cold water and breathable uniforms;
  • Ensure line managers and the HR department receive appropriate training;
  • Raise awareness to tackle the stigma; and
  • Consider flexible working, or if you have already implemented flexible working, consider extensions and/or exceptions to your policy.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Team on [email protected] for any assistance.

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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.