Campaigning Against Menopause Discrimination In January 2024
Although menopause is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, menopausal symptoms such as lack of concentration, anxiety, fatigue and hot flushes means that many women going through this stage of life will experience age discrimination, sex discrimination, and most commonly, disability discrimination.
Although the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee recommended in 2022 that menopause should become a protected characteristic, the government did not accept this recommendation.
Recently there have been several high-profile cases regarding menopause discrimination in the news.
In Rooney v Leicester City Council, an Employment Appeal Tribunal concluded that menopause symptoms could amount to a disability, setting a legal precedent. The case involved a social worker suffering from menopause symptoms including anxiety and depression, who took periods of extended sick leave. This resulted in a formal warning in response to which they resigned claiming constructive dismissal and disability discrimination because reasonable adjustments to their sick policy had not been considered,
In another recent landmark case Lynskey v Direct Line, an Employment Tribunal awarded a former employee over £64,000 due to an employer’s failure to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their employee’s menopause symptoms. The award included £23,000 for injury to feelings, over £30,000 for loss of earnings, and £2,500 for aggravated damages.
Sadly, many employers do not take menopause discrimination at work seriously. For example, by having a Menopause Policy in place to support their menopausal staff.
A Fawcett Society study in 2022 found that 80% of women surveyed had not been offered any menopause training, nor did their employer have a menopause policy. One in ten of the menopausal women surveyed had left their job because of their adverse menopause symptoms.
To combat this we are running our new campaign, ‘Menopause Matters’ in January 2024 to stamp out menopause discrimination at work.
Throughout January 2024, on Tuesday and Thursdays, we are running a free confidential telephone advice helpline on 01273 609911. This is for employers, employees and workers concerned about menopause discrimination in the workplace.
We are also running a free virtual workshop for employee advisers and Trade Union representatives on ‘Menopause Discrimination At Work’ on Thursday 25 January 2024. This is in addition to a virtual seminar for employers in the charity and non-profit sector on ‘Menopause Discrimination – Best Practice for Employers’ which will take place on Tuesday 30 January 2024.
We believe that by providing training on best practice procedures, employers can better support their menopausal staff and retain their talent and experience in the workplace. Not only does this mean that employers avoid costly and damaging discrimination claims, but they will create a workplace where all staff are supported and can achieve their true potential at work. We are also providing training to employee advisors so that employees and workers know more about their rights when going through the menopause.
As part of this campaign we are offering a free Menopause Policy which you can access here to ensure your workplace is doing all they can to support menopausal women.
On a positive note, it is good to see that what was once a taboo subject is now being openly discussed. This means that measures can be put into place to provide appropriate advice and protection for women going through the menopause.