Government Action On The Menopause

An enquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee was tasked with scrutinising the current legal protection and workplace practices available to women going through the menopause against discrimination. This is part of a government commitment to conduct research into “what works to improve women’s reproductive health, across their life…” and “develop indicators relating to women’s health experience and impact on their work”.

The first ever Women’s Health Strategy is also being developed, and it has recently been announced that a new cross-government Menopause Taskforce will be established. This taskforce will look at the role education and training, workplace policies and peer groups for menopausal women can play in supporting women though this challenging time. 

The Civil Service is also developing its first workplace menopause policy to enable women to continue to fulfil their full potential. 

Voluntary Steps 

According to research by the Wellbeing of Women group, 900,000 women have had to leave their jobs due to the effect of menopause symptoms, such as anxiety, poor concentration and irregular and heavy bleeding. To combat this, the ‘Menopause Workplace Pledge’ campaign was launched on 4 October 2021, asking employers to take positive steps in offering employee’s support.

The pledge shows a commitment by employers to:

  • Recognise that the menopause can be an issue in the workplace and women need support
  • Talk openly, positively, and respectfully about the menopause
  • Actively support and inform employees affected by the menopause

The Wellbeing of Women Pledge campaign, being run in partnership with Hello! Magazine, and Bupa, has been joined by big name employers like Tesco, Severn Trent and Santander. It was launched with a roundtable discussion with those already signed up to the pledge, sharing examples of the steps they have taken to support their staff already.

Tesco, for example, have created a guide to women’s health, focusing on menopause, for all staff. They have focused on education, building awareness and help and support for front line managers. Various events have already taken place involving men and women promoting and educating on this through means such as sharing experiences, and spotlighting stories from colleagues of all levels. They have even worked on a new uniform design, set to be launched in January 2022, designed specifically with menopausal women in mind.

PWC, another employer that has made the pledge, encourages employers to consider how best to support woman, by engaging women and asking what they want and need. The clear message is that designing policies in isolation of the staff who will benefit from them is not how this issue is going to be tackled

Caroline Nokes, MP and chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee made the benefits of such steps clear by pointing out that this effects women near or at the peak of their careers and failing to manage it effectively means the loss of senior talent, and important role models for your workers.  

Summary

Taking pro-active steps now, rather than waiting to see what legislative steps are going to be taken, is a move many employers are taking, and by publicly signing the pledge they are making their commitment to equality known.

Clients

If any clients would like to consider developing support around the Menopause then the AP Partnership Ltd has a template Menopause Policy and a “How to support employees through the Menopause” Guide. 

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