Fact Service January 2023

Government rejects menopause reform

The government has rejected a proposal from MPs in the Women and Equalities Committee to introduce menopause leave pilot projects, along with the suggestion that menopause could be made a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

The proposals had been two of the keystones of a report from the committee published in July 2022 which set out plans to “examine the extent of discrimination faced by menopausal people in the workplace, and investigate how government policy and workplace practices can better support those experiencing menopause.” This week ministers responded by rejecting outright five of the committee’s proposals, including those two fundamental recommendations.

Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said the government’s response was “a missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce”.

In a letter to health minister Maria Caulfield, she accused the government of making only “glacial progress” on the issue, and expressed concern that it had “ignored the significant evidence base” for equality law reform.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the Usdaw retail workers’ union, called the news “deeply disappointing.”

“Given that one in three women in the UK are currently going through or have reached the menopause, it is shocking that there is still so much stigma, discrimination and lack of awareness about it,” he said.