Menopause-related cases at employment tribunal are on the rise, according to new analysis.
Recent government data shows a rising trend in the number of employment tribunal cases in the UK citing menopause as a contributing factor, although that number is still small, according to law firm Irwin Mitchell.
According to HM Courts & Tribunal Service, in 2017, there were five cases, which increased to six in 2018 and seven in 2019. This number saw a significant jump in 2020 with 16 cases and further increased to 23 cases in 2021.
Irwin Mitchell has analysed the latest government data and found that although there was a slight dip to 18 cases that cited menopause in 2022, the first six months of 2023 have already recorded 14 cases.
Jenny Arrowsmith, an employment partner at Irwin Mitchell and national expert on workplace issues relating to menopause, said: “While many businesses have become more aware of the importance of understanding and addressing menopause in the workplace, these figures indicate that there is still much work to be done. The UK is currently on track to record the highest number of decided cases involving menopause, highlighting the need for greater awareness and support within companies.
“Significant strides have been made in the area of menopause and its impact on the workplace over the last two to three years. We hope that the high number of cases seen in the first half of 2023 are not replicated in the second half, and that the numbers for the full year will show that the situation is stabilising rather than getting worse. But we also need to acknowledge that, these figures are likely to represent the tip of the iceberg as, even if women bring tribunal claims, many settle before they reach a hearing.”
She counselled employers to “take the necessary steps to ensure they are creating an inclusive, diverse, and supportive environment for employees experiencing menopause”, including educating staff through good quality training.
While menopause is not a protected characteristic like pregnancy, women who feel they have been dismissed or badly treated due to the menopause are able to take out discrimination cases under other characteristics, including age and disability. Recent studies have focused on the number of women dropping out of the workforce due to the menopause. A BUPA study, for instance, showed up to 900,000 women have left their job over an unspecified period because of menopausal symptoms.
*Irwin Mitchell’s Employers’ guide to menopause, including free menopause policy template, can downloaded from Irwin Mitchell’s website.