News

Menopause law change blocked over fears it 'will discriminate against men'

Everything you need to know about menopause (and perimenopause)

A move to protect the rights of women experiencing menopause has been in part rejected by the government due to fears it could discriminate against men.

The proposed change was a recommendation to make menopause a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act, making it illegal to discriminate against and it came out of across-party women and equalities report focusing on menopause and the workplace.

But the government has rejected the proposal in an official response, warning of “unintended consequences which may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, for example, discrimination risks towards men suffering from long-term medical conditions”.

It also rejected calls for a large-scale pilot of menopause leave in England, adding it was not seen as “necessary” and could turn out to be “counterproductive”.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Reacting to the response, the committee chair, the Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, questioned the government’s commitment to the issue of menopause.

In a letter to the health minister Maria Caulfield, Nokes said she was disappointed that “very little new work has been committed to by the government” in response to the committee’s report, as she expressed concern that the government had ignored what she termed the “significant evidence base” for menopause being seen as a “protected characteristic”.

Nokes, added it was a “missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce, and leaves me unconvinced that menopause is a government priority”.

“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 s

“Its refusal to even consult on reforming equalities law doesn’t make sense and we urge it to look again.”

A government spokesperson told the Guardian: “We recognise that the menopause can be a challenging time for women, which is why we have put women’s health at the top of the agenda as part of the first-ever women’s health strategy for England.

“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.”

Won't someone think of the men?!

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)