According to the ONS UK labour market bulletin released earlier this month (March 2023), there were 15.66 million women in the UK aged 16 and over in employment from October to December 2022. It is also reported that women over 50 are the fastest-growing group in employment.
However, there are increasing concerns over how women dealing with menopause or perimenopause symptoms are treated in the workplace, with the number of menopause cases reaching employment tribunals continuing to rise. It is thought that one in four women experiencing menopause are reported to have considered leaving their job due to symptoms.
Employers are being encouraged to provide better support to those experiencing menopause. The Government announced earlier this month (6th March 2023) it had appointed England’s first ever ‘Menopause Employment Champion’.
Helen Tomlinson, Head of Talent (UK & Ireland) at The Adecco Group, has been appointed to the independent role by the Department for Work and Pensions and will work closely with the Minister for Social Mobility, Youth and Progression, Mims Davies.
In the announcement of her new appointment, Menopause Employment Champion Helen Tomlinson said:
“I have witnessed the transformational power that opening up conversations on the Menopause can have in a workplace. By creating safe spaces by educating management and creating allies across workforces, women can be supported and empowered to manage their symptoms and thrive in work.”
“Less than a quarter of UK businesses currently have a menopause policy, but as I take on this role, I am determined that my generation of women in work will break the menopause taboo and have confidence that their health is valued.”
“I look forward to working with women and leaders across all sectors of work to address this gap and make a difference for current and future generations.”
You can read the full press release here:
The Government committed to the appointment of a Menopause Employment Champion in its official responses to both the independent Menopause and Employment: How to enable fulfilling working lives report and Women and Equalities Select Committee Report on Menopause and the Workplace.
Menopause is not officially classed as a disability. Still, the symptoms can significantly affect many sufferers’ physical and mental health, and employers must support those employees in the workplace dealing with menopause. However, as menopause is not a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010 (the Act), employees wanting to bring discrimination claims against their employers under current legislation will need to rely on the protected characteristics of age, disability, or sex.
While there are no intentions to make any legislative changes in this regard, employers are now actively encouraged to consider facilitating a better environment for employees going through menopause and perimenopause. Failing to adequately support or deal with menopause-related issues can pose significant legal risks for employers.
Employment Law Advice – Discrimination Claims
Our specialist employment law solicitors at Bridge McFarland LLP work with employers and employees regarding all employment law matters and workplace discrimination and can offer advice and guidance on bringing or defending a workplace discrimination claim.
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you have any questions on the topic covered or if you are seeking legal advice, please contact our team of solicitors.