In July 2022, the Women and Equalities Committee published a report making a number of recommendations for the further protection of individuals affected by the menopause. On 24 January 2023, the government published its response to the recommendations and, in a move which will be seen as many as disappointing and a missed opportunity, has confirmed that it will not amend the Equality Act 2010 to include menopause as a protected characteristic. The government has also ruled out the introduction of menopause leave. However, the appointment of a Menopause Ambassador is supported in principle.

The recommendations of most interest to employers – and the government’s response to those recommendations – are summarised below.

While this latest development confirms that there will not be a clear legal framework specifically protecting individuals affected by menopause, all of the existing protections under the Equality Act 2010 still apply; employers must therefore remain alive to the discrimination risks which may arise when managing employees in this regard.

There is also no doubt that menopause remains a business critical issue for employers. Menopausal women are reportedly the fastest growing demographic in the workplace[1] and, in 2019, over-50s accounted for the majority of UK employment growth[2]. Employers cannot therefore afford to stand still in this space and should be taking proactive steps to develop their menopause strategy. Retention of talented individuals and employee wellbeing sit alongside a need to guard against tribunal claims and maintain business reputation.