Six in ten Britons believe it should be illegal to discriminate against menopausal women

Joanna MorrisData Journalist
March 02, 2023, 8:58 AM GMT+0

Half of the British public say employers should be made to offer paid time off to those suffering menopause symptoms

The government recently rejected cross-party proposals to make the menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act – but 62% of Britons say they support the idea.

That includes more than a third (36%) who “strongly” support placing the menopause alongside characteristics like pregnancy, race and disability under the act, thus making it illegal to discriminate against menopausal women.

A fifth of Britons (20%), however, oppose the idea, with one in ten (10%) saying they strongly oppose it.

Women, perhaps unsurprisingly, are far more likely than men to be in favour of menopause becoming a protected characteristic. However, both sexes are more likely to support than oppose the proposal – 71% of women and 53% of men are in favour, while 18% of women and 23% of men are in opposition.

Most Britons believe menopausal women should be entitled to paid time off

The recent Women and Equalities Committee report on menopause and the workplace argued that the overlooked impact of menopause is causing the UK workforce to haemorrhage talent and said the current law does not sufficiently protect women going through it.

However, as well as dismissing the report’s recommendation to make menopause a protected characteristic, the government’s response also rejected the idea of piloting a specific menopause leave policy.

But most Britons (55%) say they’d support menopause leave – twice as many as the 27% who say they would oppose it.

Around half of men (47%) and nearly two-thirds of women (64%) are among those who say they would support it being a legal requirement for employers to offer menopause leave.

In comparison, 31% of men and 24% of women are opposed.

Generally, older people are more against the idea, with 44% of those aged 65 and over saying they’d oppose menopause leave (42% support it), compared to between 17-28% of other age groups (of whom 50-66% are in support).

Among women, support is lowest among those most likely to have already been through the menopause, with 48% of women aged 56 and over saying they would back paid leave.

In contrast, 71% of women most likely to be going through menopause (those aged 45 to 55) would support it, as would eight in ten (81%) of those of a ‘peri-menopausal’ age (i.e. those approaching the menopause, who are typically between 40 and 44).

Support is also very high among young women, with 76% of women under-40 in support.

Younger men are also more likely than their elders to be in support, with 50% of men under-40 in favour compared to 42% of men aged 56 and over.

Vast majority of Britons say employers should make reasonable adjustments for menopausal workers

Although the government says no new laws will be made around menopause, it is reportedly focused on encouraging employers to implement workplace menopause policies.

Three-quarters of Britons (75%) believe employers should implement workplace menopause policies, including reasonable adjustments such as flexible working hours, cooler working environments or uniform adaptations.

That includes around a third of people (35%) who say it should be made law for employers to put such policies in place.

One in 11 people (9%), however, think employers should not have to do so at all, including 11% of men and 7% of women.

Picture: Getty

See full tables here