Shorter Reads

Menopause will not become a protected characteristic

The government has denied a proposal to classify menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, as ‘it could discriminate against men.’

1 minute read

Published 25 January 2023

Authors

Share

Key information

‘Menopause in the Workplace’ report

The government has published its response to the ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ report presented by the cross-party Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee in July 2022.

It has accepted some of the Committee’s recommendations, for example to appoint a ‘menopause ambassador’. However, it rejected others, such as a proposal from MPs to introduce ‘menopause leave’ and crucially amending the Equality Act 2010 to include menopause as a protected characteristic, a key feature of the campaign designed to strengthen legal rights for women at risk of discrimination and thereby provide a legal basis for reasonable adjustments to be made. The government stated that the current protections against sex and disability discrimination are sufficient to cover the position.

The justification for refusing to give legislative teeth to some of the proposals is that menopausal leave could be counterproductive to woman in the workplace and have unintended consequences of discriminating against men.

Whilst there are persuasive arguments in favour of extending employment protection in this area, one wonders whether the government is trying to balance the competing needs of individuals and their employers. As the country faces further economic hardship and recession perhaps now is not the right time to open new avenues of potential litigation but rather to encourage a more collaborative approach at work, no doubt made easier due to a greater acceptance of agile and flexible working patterns as a consequence of the pandemic.

Dual discrimination

In its report, the Committee also recommended the government commence section 14 of the Equality Act, which relates to ‘dual discrimination’. This section has been part of the Equality Act since its enactment but is currently ‘inactive’. The government rejected the recommendation and stated it would not legislate to commence section 14.

Dual discrimination is discrimination based on a combination of two relevant protected characteristics rather than just one. The concept of looking at the interaction of overlapping forms of discrimination is often called ‘intersectionality’. Viewing discrimination from an intersectional perspective is seen by many to offer a more nuanced understanding as not all individuals who share a protected characteristic experience discrimination or marginalisation in the same way. Discrimination, for most, is a unique and personal experience that seldom involves just one aspect or characteristic of their being.

For more information, visit our Discrimination Law page.

Message us with any questions

Related latest updates
PREV NEXT

Related content

Arrow Back to Insights

Shorter Reads

Menopause will not become a protected characteristic

The government has denied a proposal to classify menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, as ‘it could discriminate against men.’

Published 25 January 2023

Associated sectors / services

Authors

‘Menopause in the Workplace’ report

The government has published its response to the ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ report presented by the cross-party Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee in July 2022.

It has accepted some of the Committee’s recommendations, for example to appoint a ‘menopause ambassador’. However, it rejected others, such as a proposal from MPs to introduce ‘menopause leave’ and crucially amending the Equality Act 2010 to include menopause as a protected characteristic, a key feature of the campaign designed to strengthen legal rights for women at risk of discrimination and thereby provide a legal basis for reasonable adjustments to be made. The government stated that the current protections against sex and disability discrimination are sufficient to cover the position.

The justification for refusing to give legislative teeth to some of the proposals is that menopausal leave could be counterproductive to woman in the workplace and have unintended consequences of discriminating against men.

Whilst there are persuasive arguments in favour of extending employment protection in this area, one wonders whether the government is trying to balance the competing needs of individuals and their employers. As the country faces further economic hardship and recession perhaps now is not the right time to open new avenues of potential litigation but rather to encourage a more collaborative approach at work, no doubt made easier due to a greater acceptance of agile and flexible working patterns as a consequence of the pandemic.

Dual discrimination

In its report, the Committee also recommended the government commence section 14 of the Equality Act, which relates to ‘dual discrimination’. This section has been part of the Equality Act since its enactment but is currently ‘inactive’. The government rejected the recommendation and stated it would not legislate to commence section 14.

Dual discrimination is discrimination based on a combination of two relevant protected characteristics rather than just one. The concept of looking at the interaction of overlapping forms of discrimination is often called ‘intersectionality’. Viewing discrimination from an intersectional perspective is seen by many to offer a more nuanced understanding as not all individuals who share a protected characteristic experience discrimination or marginalisation in the same way. Discrimination, for most, is a unique and personal experience that seldom involves just one aspect or characteristic of their being.

For more information, visit our Discrimination Law page.

Associated sectors / services

Authors

Need some more information? Make an enquiry below.

    Subscribe

    Please add your details and your areas of interest below

    Specialist sectors:

    Legal services:

    Other information:

    Jurisdictions of interest to you (other than UK):

    Article contributors

    Enjoy reading our articles? why not subscribe to notifications so you’ll never miss one?

    Subscribe to our articles

    Message us on WhatsApp (calling not available)

    Please note that Collyer Bristow provides this service during office hours for general information and enquiries only and that no legal or other professional advice will be provided over the WhatsApp platform. Please also note that if you choose to use this platform your personal data is likely to be processed outside the UK and EEA, including in the US. Appropriate legal or other professional opinion should be taken before taking or omitting to take any action in respect of any specific problem. Collyer Bristow LLP accepts no liability for any loss or damage which may arise from reliance on information provided. All information will be deleted immediately upon completion of a conversation.

    I accept Close

    Close
    Scroll up
    ExpandNeed some help?Toggle

    Get in touch

    Get in touch using our form below.