Menopausal or stressed woman holding her head

Labour announces menopause at work policy plan

Labour has announced that it will introduce a policy requiring firms with more than 250 employees to publish and implement menopause action plans, setting out how they would support employees through menopause, with possible provisions including paid time off, changes to uniforms and temperature control in the workplace.

Announcing the plan, Labour highlighted that one in ten women aged between 45 and 55 will leave a job because of menopause symptoms.

Labour’s policy will not set out specific requirements for employers, as the action plans will need to be tailored to different workplaces. But it will issue guidance on how to compose plans.

Large firms will be required to communicate policies to employees. Labour said the process would be “simple and easy”, with employers required to submit their plans annually to the existing government portal used for gender pay gap reporting.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said:

“Under the Conservatives, the number of women leaving the workforce is skyrocketing and productivity is plummeting as those who continue in work aren’t getting the support they need.

“This is bad for women, bad for business and bad for our economy. I know from working with many incredible women how hard it is to get on at work every day whilst battling severe symptoms including depression, joint pain and extreme fatigue. It happens in every workplace, but too often women suffer in silence”.

Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Anneliese Dodds said:

“Women in their 50s are the fastest growing group in the workforce, but they face significant pressures…

“No one should face having to step down from their job because of the menopause. [This] announcement is a vital step forward in enabling those women to re-enter the workforce, progress their careers or to keep working.”

Commenting on the policy outlined, Shazia Ejaz, REC Director of Campaigns, said:

“We urge politicians, businesspeople and trade unions to collaborate because there are few workplaces where the menopause is not experienced by staff. Not enabling people at the peak of their experience and knowledge to stay in work adds to labour shortages at a time when new job adverts are at a 14-month high. Bupa research found that almost a million women have left the workplace due to menopausal symptoms – which is not far short of the 1.3 million existing job vacancy adverts today.

“A menopause action plan is a useful contribution to the debate because too few employers provide workplace adjustments and flexible working and rights, a sick leave policy relating to menopause, or returner programmes that include and highlight post-menopausal opportunities as well as post-maternity.

“We still await any update on the government’s commitment earlier this year to lead on a public health campaign around menopause, including how people can get help at work.

“We were pleased to contribute to the government’s Fuller Working Lives taskforce focused on menopause support last year, and would like to see those recommendations for business, government and the health service enacted as soon as possible.”