Menopause workplace policy would be mandatory for large organisations under Labour

Maya Oppenheim
"Fearing age-based discrimination, older women find themselves silently suffering symptoms such as hot flushes, worried about being stereotyped as 'getting old'": Rex

Large organisations would be forced to introduce a menopause workplace policy under a Labour government in an attempt to tackle the stigma which surrounds the menopause.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary, will use a speech at the Labour Party conference on Saturday to unveil the “bold policy”.

The majority of the 3.4 million women between 50 and 64 in the UK will be experiencing symptoms of the menopause.

These include hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, headaches, vaginal dryness and pain, a reduced sex drive, palpitations, recurrent urinary tract infections – as well as anxiety, mood changes, feelings of sadness and difficulty concentrating.

Under a Labour government, organisations which have over 250 employees would have to give managers training so they understand the physical and psychological impact of the menopause and get to grips with the changes needed to assist women.

This could include offering ventilation facilities and providing women with flexible working patterns in case they are experiencing insomnia due to the menopause.

Employers would also be obliged to deliver flexible working policies for menopausal women and conduct risk assessments which take into account the requirements of menopausal women to make sure their working conditions do not aggravate symptoms.

Ms Butler 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.

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“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.”

Diane Danzebrink, who runs the Menopause Support network which works with nearly 10,000 women, applauded Labour’s pledge.

“I am delighted,” she told The Independent. “Menopause awareness in the workplace is a win-win situation, currently far too many women are leaving the workplace due to a lack of guidance and support and employers are losing valuable, experienced members of staff.”

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The campaigner, who spearheaded the Make Menopause Matter campaign with the support of cross-party MPs at Westminster in October last year, added: “The campaign has been calling for menopause guidance in every workplace since its launch in Westminster on World Menopause Day, on 18 October last year. We have been working with MPs, notably Carolyn Harris, Rachel Maclean and Paula Sherriff, to campaign for this guidance and mandatory menopause education for all GPs.

“Our third aim, to have menopause included on the new relationships and sex education curriculum, was achieved in July only nine months after the campaign launched.”

Research has shown one in four women will experience debilitating symptoms that can last up to 15 years from menopause. A quarter of women polled had thought about leaving their jobs due to the menopause, a report by ITV, carried out with Wellbeing of Women, found.

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