Rise in menopause tribunals attributed to increased awareness

The number of employment tribunals relating to menopause increased in 2021, highlighting a potential rise in awareness of the condition.

Research from the menopause education service the Menopause Experts Group showed there were 23 employment tribunals concerning menopause in 2021, representing a 43% increase on the 16 cases recorded the year before.

Within those 23 cases, 16 referred to disability discrimination, 10 claimed sex discrimination and 14 were on the basis of unfair dismissal.

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There was also a 75% increase in other cases mentioning the word menopause, even if that wasn't the direct subject of the tribunal. The word was mentioned 207 times in tribunal documents in 2021, up from 118 in 2020.

Emma Clark, employment partner at law firm Keystone Law, said that the increase in cases could be attributed to greater awareness of menopause in the workplace.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “The increase is likely to reflect the recent increased public awareness of the challenges that employees face in managing their menopausal symptoms in the workplace."

The number of cases still represent a small number of tribunals on the whole, Clark added, which may be because employees don't believe they would be successful with a claim.

"The caseload is still a very small percentage of the overall number of employment tribunal claims," she added. "This could be because claimants lack confidence due to the limited successful claims to date as well as the absence of direct legislative protection for menopausal people.

"This means they have the challenge of trying to shoehorn their claims into sex, age, disability or gender reassignment discrimination laws which often feels unpalatable or not appropriate."