Multiple MPs have spoken out in support of formally introducing policies that would protect women going through the menopause from being discriminated against in the workplace.
A Conservative MP, Rachel Maclean and a Labour MP, Carolyn Harris have both expressed their desire to see policies in the workplace that protect women going through the menopause, the first laws of their kind. These MPs express that they feel confident that these policies would be passed by parliament as many male colleagues have “wives that have been through it” which allows them to “understand” the severity of the problem.
The NHS defines the menopause as a “natural part of ageing” which primarily affects women between the ages of 45 and 55 years of age. The symptoms can include hot flushes, night sweats, an array of mental health issues in addition to problems with memory and concentration. The NHS notes that these symptoms can be “severe” and have a “significant impact on everyday activities”.
A survey from the CIPD in March 2019 confirms this as 59 per cent of working women between the ages of 45 and 55 who were experiencing menopause symptoms said it had a negative impact on them at work.
MPs from all parties have expressed their support towards implementing policies in the workplace for menopausal women.
Ms Maclean MP first raised the issue in the House of Commons, said:
Employees don’t get the support they need. It is very difficult for women at work often.
My central message is: menopause is the last taboo because it is still hidden and it only affects women and it only affects older women. It’s ageism, it’s sexism, all rolled into one.
Ms Harris Labour MP agreed, telling the Guardian:
You wouldn’t dream of having a workplace where people weren’t entitled to certain things because they were pregnant, and it’s exactly the same for women with the menopause. I firmly believe there should be legislation to make sure every workplace has a menopause policy, just like they have a maternity policy.
Ms Harris’ comments are reminiscent of the previous policies instated by former Prime Minister Theresa May. Although Mrs May’s government pushed legislation to protect new mothers from redundancy for two years and issued a ‘roadmap for change’ to support females from birth to working life, none of her policies addressed women going through the menopause.
Sue Hackett, the London regional equality officer at the GMB union, a general trade union said:
It is high time we stop treating menstruation and menopause as taboo subjects. Women have put up with insulting comments and a woeful lack of provision for far too long for what is a completely natural condition.
Interested in implementing inclusivity and diversity within the workplace? We recommend Unconscious Bias in the Workplace.