According to recent figures from the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, menopause cases reaching Employment Tribunals are hitting an all-time high. However, employees wanting to bring discrimination claims against their employers for age, disability, or sex discrimination, will have to continue to rely on these three protected characteristics for discrimination claims related to menopause. This is because it has been confirmed by Baroness Stedman-Scott (Minister for Work and Pensions (Lords) and Minister for Women) that the Government is not currently planning to introduce menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
Within the published policy paper, the Government’s response included the following statement:
“Menopause is not a protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010 (the Act), but sex, age and disability are all characteristics which provide protection against unfair treatment of employees going through the menopause. As such, the Government does not believe further changes to the Equality Act are needed.
This is borne out by recent cases which show that employees have scope within the Act to challenge discriminatory treatment by employers – claiming under one or more of the three relevant characteristics.”
You can read the full policy paper here: Menopause and the Workplace: How to enable fulfilling working lives: government response.
It should be noted that whilst the Government does not plan to introduce menopause as a protected characteristic within the Equality Act, in the same announcement, Baroness Stedman-Scott also confirmed that government officials will assess whether existing menopause guidance reflects relevant tribunal case law, and whether they could make improvements to increase understanding of the law.
Employment law advice – discrimination claims
Employers need to be mindful of the implications of menopause and ensure they understand the complexities of supporting employees with menopausal symptoms, especially if they want to ensure they retain key talent within the business. Furthermore, ignoring these issues could be damaging, with disputes leading to grievances or costly legal claims. Employment law is constantly evolving, and the last ten years or so have seen the introduction of numerous regulations which influence the employer-employee relationship. We pursue and defend claims on behalf of both employers and employees and can provide advice and assistance with all aspects of employment law matters, discrimination claims and disputes.
Please contact our Employment Solicitors below to discuss the best way forward for you and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances.
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our team of solicitors.