Menopause leave is not seen as “necessary”, government says
The UK government has in part rejected the proposed legislation to protect women experiencing menopause due to fears it may discriminate against men.
In addition, the government rejected calls for a large-scale pilot of menopause leave, stating it could be “counterproductive” and not “necessary”.
However, people are calling for the government to take immediate action as women’s healthcare in the UK is as bad as Kazakhstan and worse than China, according to the 2021 Hologic Global Women’s Health Index.
The UK’s score dropped three points over the last 12 months and is ranked lower than France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
Menopause should be a “protected characteristic”
It has been recommended that menopause should be classified as a “protected characteristic” under the Equalities Act, after the cross-party women and equalities committee published a ‘menopause and the workplace’ report last year.
It is illegal to discriminate against protected characteristics, which include age, disability, and race.
The government rejected this proposal due to fears that it would spark “unintended consequences”, such as inadvertently creating “new forms of discrimination, for example, discrimination risks towards men suffering from long-term medical conditions”.
Very little is being done to protect women’s health
The UK government is now being questioned as to whether they take women’s health seriously. Caroline Nokes, the committee chair and Conservative MP described the rejection as a “missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce”, continuing that she felt “unconvinced that menopause is a government priority”.
In a letter to Maria Caulfield, Caroline continued: “The evidence to our inquiry was crystal clear that urgent action was needed across healthcare and work settings to properly address women’s needs, yet government progress has been glacial and its response complacent,” she said in a statement. Its refusal to even consult on reforming equalities law doesn’t make sense and we urge it to look again.”
In response, a spokesperson for the government said: “We are implementing an ambitious programme of work with the NHS to improve menopause care so all women can access the support they need.
“We encourage employers to be compassionate and flexible to the needs of their employees, and are committed to supporting more flexible working patterns – having consulted on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to.”