Financial & Legal News

Is Menopause a Protected Characteristic?

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Menopause has been rejected by the government as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act but this does not mean employers can simply ignore it as an issue in the workplace.

The need for employers to have appropriate, lawful and compassionate workplace policies in place is now all the more relevant.

Many businesses have specific menopause policies in place and encourage the training of managers and staff to raise awareness about the symptoms and struggles that menopausal women face in order to hopefully prevent an exodus of talent.

Menopause in the workplace

A study in 2022 by the Fawcett Society found that 1 in 10 women had left a job during menopause, whilst Research Without Barriers found that when not supported by their employers, up to one million women in the UK could be forced out of their jobs.

Had menopause been made a protected characteristic it would have made it illegal to discriminate against those experiencing menopausal symptoms.

What are protected characteristics?

They are a specific set of characteristics that make it illegal to discriminate against and include age, disability and race, amongst others.

Partner and Employment Law Solicitor, Susan Mayall has advised many national employers about the menopause in the workplace and what it means for them and their business.

“Whilst as employment lawyers we would have welcomed clarity on this matter and a change in legislation but going forward, business owners can help to prevent problems occurring and by having a menopause policy in place is a great starting point.”

“One thing I would say though is that this policy needs to be actioned and worked upon over time in order to mitigate the risk of employment claims at a tribunal, training and having a respectful working environment is all part of the process,” added Susan.

UK Government rejects the Menopause as a Protected Characteristic

The government rejected the proposal, warning of “unintended consequences which may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, for example, discrimination risks towards men suffering from long-term medical conditions.”

“However, there still might be occasions when employers could find themselves facing complaints from staff going through the menopause if their symptoms are not taken seriously and so having a menopause policy backed up with the evidence of training, support and advice is always a good idea,” added Susan.

How can we help

For legal advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law contact our specialist Employment Law Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email 

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Susan Mayall


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