In the last year there has been a real drive to improve support at work for those experiencing the menopause. With around 4 million women aged 45-55 in work in the UK, this is a far-reaching issue which all employers must engage with.
On 18 July 2022 the Government published its response to the recommendations put forward by an independent taskforce in November 2021 to try to accelerate comprehensive change. It focuses on the key areas of Government policy, employer practice, and wider societal and financial support.
The points that employers will find most interesting are as follows:
- The Government will back a campaign which focuses on communicating with employers and employer organisations about how they can support staff going through menopause and the importance of doing so to recruit and retain them.
- The Government will also support businesses to produce their own communications, to promote better working practices.
- Larger employers will be encouraged to use Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) for awareness, training and support.
- For smaller employers without access to EAP other options will be considered (through the Health and Wellbeing Fund).
- All employers should look to appoint workplace Menopause Champions.
In terms of legal protection, the Government does not believe that the Equality Act needs to be changed to make menopause a separate protected characteristic. Protection against unfair treatment will continue to be covered by the existing protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment and sex.
Employers should take action now to review the support they provide to those going through menopause, how it is communicated and how effective it is.
We expect that there will be more recommendations for employers to consider once the outcome of the Women and Equalities Committee’s inquiry is published.
The Women and Equalities Committee’s report was published on 28 July 2022 (the day after this blog was posted) with its recommendations to Government. They include (i) appointing a Menopause Ambassador,(ii) producing model menopause policies to assist employers, (iii) piloting a ‘menopause leave’ policy and (iv) bringing forward legislation to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees. The Government has two months to respond.