Should the menopause be a protected characteristic?

Direct discrimination is where a person is treated less favourably compared to another person and the reason for the less favourable treatment is based on one of the protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010. Currently there are 9 protected characteristics in the Equality Act including: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. In recent news, it has been suggested menopause could be proposed as the next protected characteristic to be covered against discrimination under the Equality Act.


Jas Dubb, Associate Solicitor at The Wilkes Partnership considers what employers need to do in order to ensure they are following correct procedures when identifying an employee with a potential protected characteristic.

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee recently published findings of a survey as part of its ongoing menopause and the Workplace enquiry. The report found that people experiencing menopausal symptoms were 43% more likely to have left their jobs by the age of 55 than those not experiencing severe symptoms. The report also showed that only 1 in 10 people had asked for workplace adjustments with those who had not asked saying they were “worried about the reaction of others” or that they did not know who to ask.

The key findings of the survey highlighted that the employer’s lack of support for menopausal symptoms is pushing talented and skilled staff out of work. With menopausal individuals being one of the fastest growing demographic in the workforce, MPs have called for menopause to be taken seriously within the workplace.

It is therefore important for both employers and employees to gain a clear understanding of what the menopause is and how it can affect those who are going through it.

To discuss anything arising from this update, please contact Jas Dubb on 0121 710 5929 or via email at [email protected]. You can also contact any other member of the Employment Team on 0121 233 4333 or email us at [email protected].

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