An analysis of court records conducted by the Menopause Experts Group found that there has been an increase of 44% in the number of employment tribunal claims citing menopause in 2021, when compared to the number of claims in 2020. Of these 23 claims, 16 fell under disability discrimination, 14 claimed unfair dismissal, and 10 were brought as sex discrimination claims.
Additionally, there were 207 mentions of the word menopause in tribunal documents in 2021, which is up 75% from 2020.
Despite this substantial rise in menopause-related claims, it has been announced in a letter from Baroness Stedman-Scott (Minister for Work and Pensions (Lords) and Minister for Women) to Caroline Nokes MP that there is no intention to introduce the menopause as a new protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
This follows a period of lengthy debate about whether the menopause warrants becoming a standalone protected characteristic, as opposed to its current position, which requires it to fit within the confines of an existing protected characteristic, namely sex, disability, or age.
However, whilst the current legislation won’t be amended to make menopause a new protected characteristic, officials in the government’s Equality Hub, in consultation with Acas and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, will look at existing menopause guidance for the workplace. The aim here will be to make improvements to assist employer and employee understanding of the law in this ever-evolving and complex area, as the current upwards trend of claims suggests that there will be many more menopause-related employment law claims to come.