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'Menopause leave' pilots rejected by ministers

Fiona Kyle
January 24, 2023

A raft of new initiatives for menopause support have been rejected by ministers who said the measures could be "counterproductive".

The proposal, put together by MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee, included a trial of "menopause leave" which would involve working with a large public sector company to "develop and pilot a specific menopause leave policy" which the committee said could stop women being "forced out of work by insensitive and rigid sickness policies".

Instead the government is putting the responsibility on companies to implement their own workplace menopause policies.

The cross-party committee also suggested making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act "including a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for menopausal employees" but this was also dismissed.

The government said doing this could have "unintended consequences which may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, for example, discrimination risks towards men suffering from from long term medical conditions or eroding existing protections."

The chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Conservative MP Caroline Noakes, said the government's response 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.

"For too long women have faced stigma, shame and dismissive attitudes when it comes to menopause.

"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."

A government spokesperson 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."