Menopause and the Workplace Report - Government rejects key recommendations

5 mins

Posted on 26 Jan 2023

Menopause and the Workplace Report  - Government rejects key recommendations

Government response to Menopause and the Workplace Report

The Government has responded to the Women and Equalities Committee’s recommendations contained in its Menopause and the Workplace Report. The response confirms that it will appoint a Menopause Employment Champion but other recommendations, including making menopause a protected characteristic and introducing model menopause policies, will not be implemented.

Are menopausal women protected in the workplace?

Following its inquiry, launched in July 2021, the Women and Equalities Committee published its Menopause and the Workplace Report in July 2022. The Committee noted that women of menopausal age are the fastest growing group in the workforce and are staying in work for longer than ever before. Yet these experienced and skilled role models often receive little support with menopause symptoms. As a result, some cut back their hours or responsibilities, while others leave work altogether.

The Committee also concluded that the current law does not serve or protect menopausal women, and that there is poor employer awareness of both health and safety, and equality law relating to menopause. In addition, the law does not offer proper redress to those who suffer menopause related discrimination.

The Committee made a number of recommendations to address these issues.

Government response to the Women and Equalities Committee’s recommendations

In January 2023, the Government published its response to the Committee’s recommendations.

1. Appoint a Menopause Ambassador to work with stakeholders from business, unions, and advisory groups to encourage and disseminate awareness, good practice and guidance to employers. They should also report every six months on progress made.


The Government will appoint a Menopause Employment Champion to drive forward work with employers on menopause workplace issues. A key aspect of the role will be to give a menopausal women a voice, promote their economic contribution, and to work with employers to keep those experiencing menopause symptoms in work and progressing. The Government supports six-monthly reports in principle, but will leave decisions on this to the Menopause Employment Champion once appointed.

2. Produce model menopause policies to assist employers, covering, as a minimum: how to request reasonable adjustments and other support; advice on flexible working; sick leave for menopause symptoms; and provisions for education, training and building a supportive culture.


The Government did not accept this recommendation, and believes a model menopause policy unnecessary at the moment. It referred to other steps being taken by employers and organisations to develop workplace policies and guidance, including Acas’s Menopause at work advice and the CIPD’s Let’s talk menopause guidance.

3. Pilot a specific ‘menopause leave’ policy with a large public sector employer and provide an evaluation of the scheme (and proposals for further roll out), within 12 months of the scheme commencing.


The Government did not accept this recommendation. It considers menopause leave may be counterproductive to achieving its policy aim of supporting menopausal women to remain in the workplace, and ensuring employers are well-equipped to support their workforce during the menopause.

4. Legislate to make the right to request flexible working available from the first day of employment. Issue employers with guidance encouraging them to grant any reasonable flexible working request, rather than placing the burden on the employee to justify their request.


The Government accepted this recommendation. As confirmed in its Flexible Working Consultation response, it will make the right to request flexible working a ‘day one’ right, a change which can be made by regulations. The Government is supporting the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, which, amongst other things will require a conversation before an employer can reject a flexible working request; allow two statutory requests in a 12 month period (rather than the current one); reduce the time within which an application must be administered (from three to two months); and remove the requirement for the employee to set out how they believe their request can be accommodated.

5. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should publish guidance on the legal considerations when supporting employees experiencing menopause.


The government accepted this recommendation in part. The HSE will be publishing strengthened guidance that will give a set of clear and simple ‘principles’ that employers would be expected to apply, to support disabled people and those with long term health conditions in the work environment. This guidance could also apply where workers are experiencing menopause symptoms. The Government will share the Committee’s recommendations with the EHRC, but as it is an independent public body it will have to decide for itself what, if any, future action is needed.

6. Immediately commence the dual discrimination provisions in s14 Equality Act 2010 to introduce sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic to protect women going through menopause.


The Government did not accept this recommendation. S14 does not allow it cherry pick just two of the protected characteristics and instead would require it to introduce dual discrimination across the board, creating a total of 21 dual protected characteristics. It is concerned about the significant additional burden this would place on employers and service providers.

7. Consult on making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, including a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for menopausal employees.


The Government did not accept this recommendation. It agrees women who suffer substantial and longer-term menopausal effects should be adequately protected from workplace discrimination. However, it was not satisfied that the evidence given to the Committee during the Inquiry fully supports legislation introducing menopause as a protected characteristic. It considers that the protected characteristics of sex, age and disability already provide protection against unfair treatment of employees going through menopause.

Click here for further information on why menopause is a legal issue for employers and the associated legal risks. Watch our Menopause in the workplace webinar for more information.

If you need further advice on this issue, contact our experts below.

Tina Wisener

Tina succeeded Peter Doyle as Chief Executive on 1 January 2024. She has long been recognised as one of the UKs leading employment lawyers and is ranked in the top tier of The Legal 500 and Chambers guides to the UK Legal Profession.

  • Chief Executive
  • T: +44 (0)118 951 6760
  • Email me

View profile

Rose Smith

Rose is an employment and education lawyer. She has a track record in providing measured employment law advice, and is also part of Doyle Clayton’s renowned Education Team, providing advice to teachers, professors and schools.

  • Legal Director
  • T: +44 (0)20 7042 7206
  • Email me

View profile

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

Back to top