24 September 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Large organisations should offer flexible working for women experiencing the menopause, shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler told the Labour Party conference this weekend.
Speaking to delegates, Butler pledged that the policy would be introduced under a future Labour government for employers with more than 250 staff. These employers would also be required to train managers on how menopause affects employees so they can better accommodate their needs.
She added: "It is time we incorporate respect for women and our bodies into workplace policies. Most women will go through the menopause and many feel ill-equipped to manage the symptoms of the menopause at work."
Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment law at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, commenting on the policy, said: "As people are now working for much longer than ever before, legal rights around female employees going through the menopause are perhaps more pertinent than ever. Forward-thinking organisations are leading the way and introducing menopause-specific policies in the workplace, as it's increasingly becoming accepted as an occupational health issue. Many employers also have flexible working policies in place that may allow women to better manage their symptoms.
"Not all employers are so supportive, so it's important for female employees to be mindful of their legal rights at work and understand that they can seek legal guidance if an employer is being particularly unhelpful.
"Although this is often a taboo subject, it's important for employers of all sizes to be aware of this issue and for women to feel comfortable enough to be able to approach their employer and have an open conversation about their experiences of the menopause. Better HR training for managers is a good starting point, but it's also important that employers take the time to consider their working practices and making suitable adjustments where needed."