Menopause and Perimenopause: A Workplace Issue

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2023 National Women's Conference
13 October 2022

This conference notes that whilst there is a better awareness and knowledge of menopause and perimenopause generally, some of which has been helped by Unisons comprehensive guidance on the Menopause, we as a union still need to further focus on specifically promoting this within the workplace. Women make up over 70% of Unison membership and the implications and impact of understanding menopause and perimenopause should therefore be a crucial issue for us as a union to campaign and educate on. Furthermore, the impacts of menopause and perimenopause on women members, physical, mental, and sometimes financial may not be recognized or can be misunderstood by their colleagues and managers in the workplace.

In our region from speaking to women members we found that the menopause and perimenopause is in most workplaces still approached and managed using the sickness and absence policy and procedures and comes from a place of not understanding what the menopause and perimenopause is in the first place.

We know that menopause and perimenopause is not an illness – it is part of the cycle of life. A part that yes can be debilitating, that in some instances can be disabling but managing the menopause and perimenopause solely from an illness stance does not acknowledge what they really are and perpetuates misinformation or lack of understanding around this and have a detrimental impact of those going through it. Our activists need to feel empowered to work with employers to discourage the use of sickness policies and procedures to manage the menopause and perimenopause, but rather create and implement policies and procedures that treat menopause and perimenopause as a part of the cycle of life wherever possible.

We also need to consider that whenever the existing guidance provided by Unison is used to support and educate, that it is acknowledged that not every woman experiences menopause and perimenopause in the same way. That our representatives are trained to be aware of the need for some flexibility in the way this guidance is applied, that it is not a one size fits all situation.

Conference calls on the National Womens Committee to work with all appropriate UNISON departments, service groups and regional womens groups to;

1)Strengthen the existing guidance available to branches to include perimenopause in a more than the glossary.

2)Work towards building into our organising steward and health and safety representatives training a module on awareness raising of the effects of the menopause and perimenopause.

3)Report back on progress to the National Womens Conference 2024