Employment tribunals citing menopause up in 2021, report shows

Experts say the growing number of cases show there is ‘still a lot of work’ for employers to do in supporting staff

Credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

The number of tribunals that reference the menopause have nearly doubled in a year, research has found.

An analysis of court records, conducted by Menopause Experts Group, found that there were 23 employment tribunals citing menopause in 2021, an increase of 44 per cent on the 16 cases seen in the previous year.

This included 16 tribunals claiming disability discrimination, 14 claming unfair dismissal and 10 claiming sex discrimination.

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The word ‘menopause’ itself was mentioned 207 times in tribunal documents in 2021, an increase of 75 per cent from the 118 mentions the year before.

Dee Murray, founder and CEO at Menopause Experts Group, acknowledged that employers were starting to get the message about menopause in the workplace. But, she said: “The growing number of employment tribunals in this area shows that there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

She called on employers to offer their workers training about the symptoms, signs, and side-effects of the menopause, adding that “the lack of education is dangerous for women’s health and unfair to their careers”.

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“What’s frustrating is the fact that there are so many training courses available to employers. Teaching our colleagues about menopause is vital if we are going to remove the stigma surrounding what is a big part of a woman's life,” Murray said.

Adam Pavey, employment lawyer and non-executive director at Menopause Experts Group, said he was hopeful that the results of a recent inquiry into menopause and the workplace – conducted by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) – could lead to some “concrete recommendations that will improve the situation”.

“Making menopause a protected characteristic is one option, but it is difficult to enforce and monitor, so the committee could push for a requirement that all employers have a menopause policy or a code of conduct, and increase penalties for firms that do not comply,” he said.

“Menopause tribunals are still divided between sex discrimination and disability discrimination cases, and the committee’s recommendation could help remove some of the confusion,” Pavey added.

The research follows the pubication of a recent poll, conducted by the Fawcett Society and Channel 4, that revealed that one in 10 (10 per cent) women have left work because of symptoms of the menopause, more employers are dedicating further efforts to help support their workers.