Menopause leave rejected by government for being too 'left wing'
As regular readers of this blog know, earlier this year the government rejected many of the suggestions made by the Women and Equalities Committee which arguably would have made it easier for menopausal women to obtain the support they need to thrive at work.
The government gave various reasons for its decision (which, in our view, didn't stand up to scrutiny). We now know more - and it looks as though the government's objections are grounded in political ideology.
Earlier this week, Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Women and Equalities, gave evidence to the Commons Women and Equalities Committee. She revealed that the government had rejected launching a pilot scheme to trial menopause leave because it was proposed from “a leftwing perspective”. [It was actually a recommendation made by the cross party women and equalities committee.] She also said that "creating another pilot on more leave" would not "help women who have the menopause".
She also explained that the government had rejected calls to add menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 on the basis that:
"we have so many things that people ask for protected characteristics – carers, single people, having ginger hair, being short, all sorts of things that people ask for as protected characteristics.
"Creating a new special characteristic for the menopause is a complete misunderstanding of what protected characteristics are, they are immutable characteristics, we have nine of them that cover everyone.
"The menopause can be dealt with, alongside three existing ones: age, sex, and disability, because it is a health condition and many disabilities are health conditions."
We explained why these protected characteristics didn't provide the protection many menopausal women need here.
We can help
Businesses are beginning to recognise that they need to support menopausal women in order to retain their skills. Our partner, Jenny Arrowsmith regularly helps organisations support menopausal women and is an expert in this area. Please get in touch if you'd like details of the training she can offer or need specific advice on this issue.
We have also added a new training programe on the menopause as part of our popular 'back to basics' training modules. It will help line manager understand the legal issues and feel more comfortable having conversations about the menopause.
Please get in touch with Jenny Arrowsmith if you'd like further information.
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You’re speaking from a leftwing perspective on creating something. I’m speaking from centre-right perspective. I think that influences the approach that you take. I do not think that creating another pilot on more leave is what is going to help women who have the menopause.”