Large organisations should offer flexible working for women experiencing the menopause, shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler told the Labour Party conference last month.
07 October 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Speaking to delegates, Butler said: "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."
She pledged that the policy - to affect employers with more than 250 staff - under a future Labour government "with the help of the unions, will ensure that training is provided for line managers so they can understand what adjustments may be necessary to ensure flexible working, conduct risk assessments, review sickness absence procedures and to consider the specific needs of menopausal women.
"These policies are important because women are working longer than ever before - some have no choice."
Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment law at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, commenting on the proposed 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."
Earlier this summer, Labour MP Carolyn Harris also supported "legislation to make sure every workplace has a menopause policy".
A number of reports over the year have pointed out the need for greater support for women going through menopause, not least because figures from the Office for National Statistics show that women aged 50 to 64 are the fastest-growing economically active group.
A study in May by a biomarker tracking service Forth With Life showed that 8 per cent of women polled believe that menopause iwas likely to have contributed to a decision to quit their jobs.
It is World Menopause Day on 18 October.