An MP leading an inquiry into menopause discrimination at work suggests equality law may need to be updated to offer greater protection, reports Personnel Today.
Caroline Noakes is the Women and Equalities Chair. She said her inquiry had heard from women who had difficulty filing a claim against their employers for menopause discrimination because menopause is not a protected characteristic. Under the Equality Act 2010, menopause discrimination is largely covered under three protected characteristics – age, sex and disability discrimination – but is not a protected characteristic itself.
Currently, women are having to pursue a claim for menopause-related discrimination through a disability claim – although menopause is not a disability.
The inquiry is investigating whether the act should be updated to recognise menopause as a protected characteristic.
“One of the key messages coming through is that people don’t feel that they’ve got adequate recourse to tribunals, because they think the legislation isn’t clear enough,” said Caroline Noakes. “We are hearing too many stories of people finding the most convenient mechanism to bring a claim for disability discrimination – the menopause isn’t a disability.
“If the current legislation is working, then great. But if it’s not working, and we’ve made maternity a protected characteristic, then do we need to look at making the menopause a protected characteristic? The jury’s still very much still out on that [but] I really don’t rule it out.”
For more on the story, read here.