North West businesswomen and academics call on Government to strengthen the rights of female employees experiencing menopause. Tony McDonough reports
Women experiencing menopause in the workplace need to have stronger employment rights.
That’s the view of a group of leading North West businesswomen and academics. They are calling on the Government to make the menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. This would offer women greater employment rights.
Around 4m women in the UK workforce are currently in the peak menopause age, as defined by the NHS (aged 45 to 55). This coincides with the period when many women are at the apex of their careers.
Currently, women are not legally entitled to any time off work during menopause. This despite the serious emotional, physical and mental issues it can cause. It can also hinder the ability of firms to retain female talent.
These issues were the topic of a webinar led by Northern Power Women, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day. It featured a panel group of industry leaders and academics and was recorded at MSP Global’s studios in Liverpool.
They called on policymakers to accept proposals to introduce ‘menopause leave’, allowing female staff a specified amount of time away from work to deal with the effects of the condition.
Simone Roche, chief executive of Northern Power Women, said: “There is a greater dialogue about menopause now than ever before.
“But greater and swifter change is needed. In recent months, ministers have blocked legislation to improve the employment rights of menopausal women and they continue to ignore the significant impact it has on lives and on the economy.
“By conferring greater rights on to menopausal women, the government has the opportunity to support their wellbeing, protect their employment status and retain their skills in the workforce.
“Some businesses are already taking a stronger approach to menopause, but this is by no means universal. We strongly urge ministers to review these matters without any further delay and give women and employers the certainty they need.”
Other contributors to the group include Adele Mackinley, director of people and organisational development at the University of Manchester, Alison Rawling, director of engineering service management at Barclays Bank, Nina Kuypers, founder of Black Women in Menopause, and Lindsay Garvey Jones, national retail manager at Holiday Extras.
Lisa Richards, director at MSP Global, added: “The current framework, or lack of it, around menopause rights is pushing women out of work in every sector.”