Industry experts have expressed concern over Labour’s proposals to support menopausal women in the workplace.
The party is suggesting that larger companies have menopause action plans in place that outline how they will support those affected by the condition at work. This could include paid leave entitlements and uniform changes.
Under the proposals, the action plans could also incorporate policies such as temperature-controlled areas in offices to help women manage menopausal symptoms.
However, Menopause Experts believes the matter is not for politicians to debate.
Dee Murray, CEO and founder, said: “In my view, the employer should be more focused on supporting women in the workplace, it should not become a parliamentary issue. Education for all is key.”
According to Murray, a Labour MP recently turned down an offer of access to the organisation’s menopause training with no reason given, which it would have supplemented with the provision of education to the 450,000 party members if needed.
She added: “I would like to know what menopause provisions have been made for all employees of the Labour party to date? Have they put into place menopause leave for example? If not why not? Can they not show this with their own teams first, so that everyone knows they are serious, and it’s not just seen a Labour trying to capture the 15 million or so Menopause votes?”
Murray also highlighted that tribunal cases are rising, so if employers don’t take the issue more seriously the cost of getting it wrong could be significant.
While gender equality and women’s rights at work charity the Fawcett Society is cautiously optimistic about the proposal, describing it as “a big win” and “significant step forward”, it has warned there is more work to be done.
CEO Jemima Olchawski said: “For too long the menopause has been shrouded in taboo – meaning women’s experiences have been ignored. Fawcett research has shown the real-world effects of the taboo, with far too many women forced out of the workforce due to symptoms. That’s not only bad for women, but bad for business.
“It [the plan] recognises that there are simple, yet highly effective actions, that employers can take to support women going through the menopause.”
Deborah Garlick, CEO of Henpicked: Menopause In The Workplace, welcomed the proposals, but says they do not go far enough.
She said: “We welcome any initiative that encourages and supports employers to be menopause friendly and have seen first-hand among our 350-strong Menopause Friendly employer network the incredible impact this can have on individuals, their colleagues and the workplace. The aim in being menopause friendly is to be supportive, thus allowing people to thrive in their chosen career.
“I would say that any government support for menopause in the workplace practices shouldn’t just focus on larger employers. We are increasingly being asked for support by SMEs including charities, schools and healthcare providers. Their needs must also be considered, because with a smaller number of staff, any temporary or permanent loss of experienced colleagues due to menopause symptoms is keenly felt.”