Labour's pledge to help women in the workplace
According to The Fawcett Society, a membership charity which campaigns for women’s rights, a staggering eight in ten women receive no support from employers for the menopause, with one in ten women stating that they had left a job due to their menopausal symptoms. It is believed that this study was the largest survey of menopausal women in the UK to date. As a result of the study, the Fawcett Society has called for there to be a requirement for employers to establish gender pay gap action plans which make it clear that measures to support women with the menopause are key to closing the gap.
In response to this, Labour has pledged (if in government) to bring in a requirement for large companies to implement their own menopause action plans, setting out how they support their employees who experience menopausal symptoms. Under Labour’s pledge, large companies will also need to publish their action plans publicly; employers’ plans would be submitted via the same online portal used for gender pay gap reporting.
Recognising the significant impact that menopausal symptoms have on women in the workplace, Labour’s pledge suggests a number of ways that employers can support their employees, including offering:
- paid time off and flexible working hours;
- working environments with temperature-controlled areas and access to ventilation facilities;
- alterations to uniform to help manage symptoms; and
- offering training to managers about how the menopause affects women and the assistance they may require.
Labour’s pledge seeks to address the difficulties faced by women in the workplace when suffering with menopausal symptoms. While the language used in the pledge focuses on “women”, we expect that this encompasses any individual who experiences female orientated reproductive health issues.
The menopause can have a significant impact on women in the workplace much like a long-term fluctuating health condition would, and it is therefore important that employers treat menopausal symptoms as such in recognition of the difficulties it can, and does, cause for so many.
Whilst the government has not yet accepted the recommendation to launch a consultation on making menopause a protected characteristic and updating legislation accordingly, it does agree that it is important that women who suffer substantial and longer-term menopausal effects should be adequately protected from discrimination in the workplace. Labour’s pledge could be the catalyst that drives employers to improve their approach to menopause in the workplace, and it is hoped that more companies, particularly large companies, will follow the recommendations within the pledge and offer more support to their employees.
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