Menopause and the workplace

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2019 National Women's Conference
16 October 2018
Carried as Amended

Around 3.5 million women aged 50years and over are currently in employment in the UK. The employment rate for women in the UK has actually increased in the past few decades and women now represent nearly half of the UK labour force. This means that many more women are affected by symptoms of the menopause in the course of their daily activities, often to the detriment of their families, work and life in general. Menopause symptoms vary, with around 25% of woman suffering severe symptoms. It is no surprise that women going through the menopause find work difficult due to poor concentration, tiredness, poor memory, depression, feeling low, reduced confidence and particularly hot flushes which are all contributory factors. These symptoms can have significant impact on attendance at work, which can then be misconstrued as a performance issue.

Employers have responsibility for the health and safety of all their employees, and there are clear business reasons for proactively managing an age diverse workforce.

UNISON has produced guidance for its safety reps on menopause and work. According to the research from TUC, workplaces are not designed for menopausal women in mind. Often managers are male or younger; and women find it difficult to disclose their menopausal issues to them. Many women opt to work part time or leave work altogether because flexible working hours are not available. Women would find it useful to have information regarding the menopause or advice regarding how to cope with work and their employer.

Temperature control in the workplace remains an important issue. The hottest issue is that managers don’t recognise problems associated with the menopause, believing it to be a difficult subject. Managers need training on menopause related sick leave and flexible working time arrangements; they need to provide appropriate uniforms.

Conference congratulates South Lanarkshire Council UNISON branch for developing a Menopause Policy with their employers which is the first comprehensive policy of its kind in Scotland. It is vital that employers provide the support that women need within the workplace.

We must use all our resources to challenge attitudes to the menopause, to ensure employers have procedures in place and to ensure that the workplace meets the needs of the menopausal woman.

We therefore call upon the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Work with branches and regions to establish examples of good practice in the local areas and build on this to provide workshops to enable union reps to represent and negotiate suitable working conditions for women going through the menopause.

2. Work with Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) to produce training materials on menopause to branches and regions