Labour announces plans to break the stigma of the menopause at work
Speaking at the Labour Party conference on 21 September, Dawn Butler MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, announced that the next Labour government will require all large employers to introduce a menopause workplace policy to break the stigma associated with the menopause, as part of the party’s plans to transform the workplace for women.
Under Labour’s plans, large employers with over 250 employees will be required to:
- provide training for line managers to be aware of how the menopause can affect working women and understand what adjustments may be necessary to support them;
- provide flexible working policies that cater for women experiencing the menopause;
- ensure absence procedures are flexible to accommodate menopause as a long-term fluctuating health condition; and
- carry out risk assessments to consider the specific needs of menopausal women and ensure that their working environment will not make their symptoms worse.
Adjustments that employers could be required to make could include the provision of ventilation facilities, access to cold water and giving women flexible working hours if their sleep pattern is disturbed.
Research has shown that many women feel ill-equipped to manage the symptoms of menopause at work. Three out of five working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work, affects their confidence and makes them feel unable to disclose their symptoms when taking sick leave.
Many women even consider working part-time or leaving work altogether because of a lack of flexible working hours or working practices they need to deal with their symptoms. A report by ITV, in conjunction with Wellbeing of Women, found that a quarter of those surveyed had considered leaving their jobs because of the menopause.
Labour’s plans to transform the workplace for women also include:
- closing the gender pay gap by forcing large companies to conduct gender pay audits and publish action plans to tackle it – backed up by civil enforcement;
- introducing rights to flexible working from the first day of employment; and
- tackling harassment at work by reinstating Section 40 of the Equality Act to protect employees from third party harassment.
Dawn Butler MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, said:
“This bold policy will support women experiencing the symptoms of menopause in the workplace. Together we must end the stigma and ensure that no woman is put at a disadvantage, from menstruation to menopause. This forms part of our plans for a workplace revolution under the next Labour government to secure equality at work. By delivering policies like this through a stand-alone Women and Equalities department, Labour will put equality right at the heart of government.”