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01 Feb 2023

Menopause in the workplace – where are we now?


The Government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee's report on the menopause. The report contained a number of recommendations and in this alert we'll summarise the Government's key responses.

Recommendation Response

Menopause Ambassador

The Government should appoint a Menopause Ambassador to work with stakeholders from business (including small to medium enterprises), unions and advisory groups to encourage and disseminate awareness, good practice and guidance to employers. The Menopause Ambassador should publish a six-monthly report on the progress made by businesses and such report should include examples of good practices as well as noting particularly poor practice.


  • The Government accepts this recommendation in principle.
  • Government commits to the appointment of a Menopause Employment Champion to drive forward work with employers on menopause workplace issues.
  • The Champion will also work with the Women's Health Ambassador on the issue of menopause and employment, ensuring there is no duplication of activity between the two roles.
  • The Champion's role will focus on matters specifically affecting employers to ensure they are engaged and supported going forward. The Ambassador will engage with a broader range of stakeholders and raise awareness and tackle taboos surrounding women's health issues in the workplace. • Frequency of progress reports to be determined once the relevant Champion has been appointed.
Model menopause policies

We recommend that the Government, in consultation with the Menopause Ambassador, produces model menopause policies to assist employers. The model policies should cover, as a minimum: how to request reasonable adjustments and other support; advice on flexible working; sick leave for menopause symptoms; and provisions for education, training and building a supportive culture.


  • The Government does not accept this recommendation.
  • The Government does not believe a model menopause policy is necessary at this moment.
  • The Government considers signposting employers to relevant policies within their industry will be more effective, as employers can then adapt and tailor those policies and make them appropriate to their organisation.
Menopause leave

The Government should work with a large public sector employer with a strong public profile to develop and pilot a specific ‘menopause leave’ policy and provide an evaluation of the scheme and proposals for further roll out, within 12 months of commencing the scheme.


  • The Government does not accept this recommendation.
  • The Government does not believe that introducing or piloting a specific policy for menopause leave is necessary.
  • The Government's aim is to support menopausal women to remain in the workplace and the ensure employers are well-equipped to support their workforce during menopause. Menopause leave may be counterproductive to achieving this goal. Efforts are therefore focused on encouraging employers to implement workplace menopause policies and other forms of support such as flexible working.
Flexible working "day one" right

The Government should bring forward legislation before the end of the current Parliament to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees. It should issue employers with guidance encouraging them to grant any reasonable requests for flexible working, rather than placing the burden on the employee to justify their request.  


  • The Government accepts this recommendation.
  • Employees will no longer need to wait 26 weeks before accessing their statutory right to make a request to change their hours, time or place of work.
  • The Government are committed to supporting legislation to require a conversation before an employer can reject a flexible working request; allow two statutory requests for flexible working in a 12 month period rather than the current one; reduce the time within which an application must be administered from 3 months to 2 months; and remove the requirement for the employee to set out how they believe their request can be accommodated.
  • The Government is supporting the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, currently going through Parliament, which would deliver these changes.
Guidance on legal considerations

The Health & Safety Executive and Equality & Human Rights Commission should publish guidance on the legal considerations when supporting employees experiencing menopause, within the next six months.

Accepted in part

  • The Government accepts this recommendation in part. 
  • The Government is developing strengthened guidance that will give a set of clear and simple 'principles' that employers would be expected to apply where workers are experiencing menopause symptoms.
Commence dual discrimination provisions

The Government should immediately commence section 14 of the Equality Act 2010.  


  • The Government does not accept this recommendation.
  • The Government has concerns about the significant burden which commencement of Section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 (combining two protected characteristics) would place on employers. Whilst the recommendation focused on the introduction of sex and age as a single dual protected characteristic this gives an inaccurate impression of how the section would work as it would create a further 20 dual protected characteristics in addition to age and sex, when the other protected characteristics are taken into account.
  • The Government remains concerned about the additional burden it would place on employers particularly as it has the potential to create new areas of dispute over self-identity and hierarchies of rights.

Introduce new protected characteristic of menopause

The Government should launch a consultation on how to amend the Equality Act 2010 to introduce a new protected characteristic of menopause, including a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for menopausal employees. This consultation should commence within six months of publication of this report. The Government’s consultation response should include a review of whether the newly commenced s14 (above) has mitigated concerns about the current law.


  • The Government does not accept this recommendation.
  • The Equality Act 2010 already provides protection for the menopause under the three protected characteristics of age, sex and disability.
  • Including a new protected characteristic is not necessarily the best approach as it may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination. Alternatives include an expansion of the reasonable adjustments' duty in section 20 and schedule 21 through an expansion of the definition of disability or age discrimination. 
  • The Government will work within the existing legal structure while considering the potential additional protection that might result from different changes to the Act.  

What does this mean for employers?

Whilst some recommendations have been accepted, the ball is largely in the employer's court to implement the appropriate menopause measures for their workplace. Failing to properly support or deal with menopause-related issues can pose significant legal risks for employers. 

For practical tips on menopause and the workplace please see our previous alert here.



Paul Reeves

Paul Reeves
Head of employment

T:  +44 20 7809 2916 M:  +44 7919 694 135 Email Paul | Vcard Office:  London

Leanne Raven

Leanne Raven
Senior knowledge lawyer

T:  +44 20 7809 2560 M:  +44 7827 353 108 Email Leanne | Vcard Office:  London