Could women get ‘menopause leave’ at work? MPs call on ministers to step in after report finds many employees receive ‘little support’ with their symptoms
- The Government has been told to pilot ‘menopause leave’ for struggling women
- Some are forced to cut back hours and responsibilities due to ‘little support’
- MPs have urged ministers to come up with plans to roll out policy within a year
- Symptoms recorded in a survey include loss of confidence and higher stress
Ministers must pilot ‘menopause leave’ to stop women being forced out of the workplace, MPs have urged.
In a report published today, the Commons women and equalities committee finds many women receive ‘little support’ with their symptoms.
Some are forced to cut back hours and responsibilities, while others leave work altogether because of ‘insensitive and rigid sickness policies’, the MPs said.
They urged ministers to launch a ‘menopause leave’ policy pilot and come up with plans to roll it out within a year.
‘Menopause symptoms can have a significant and sometimes debilitating impact on women at work,’ the committee said.
A survey found two-thirds of women suffered a ‘loss of confidence’ as a result of menopausal symptoms, with a further 70 per cent reporting increased stress levels (file image)
‘The Government should work with a large public sector employer with a strong public profile to develop and pilot a specific “menopause leave” policy and provide an evaluation of the scheme and proposals for further rollout within 12 months of commencing the scheme.’
A survey commissioned by the committee found 67 per cent of women reported a ‘loss of confidence’ as a result of menopausal symptoms and 70 per cent reported increased stress.
Yet only 12 per cent of respondents said they had sought workplace adjustments – with a quarter citing fears about how their employer would react as their reason for not doing so.
The MPs recommended ministers consult on how to make the menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, as with pregnancy or maternity.
And they called on the Government to remove dual prescription charges for oestrogen and progesterone – both components in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – and bring in a single charge incorporating both hormones.
Ministers were also urged to appoint a menopause ambassador to ‘champion good practice’.
Tory MP Caroline Nokes, who is chairman of the committee, said: ‘Menopause is inevitable. The steady haemorrhage of talented women from our workforce, however, is not. Stigma, shame and dismissive cultures can, and must, be dismantled.
‘It is imperative that we build workplaces – and a society – which not only supports those going through the menopause but encourages some of the most experienced and skilled workers in our economy to thrive.’ Women with menopausal symptoms were last week allowed to access a type of HRT without a prescription for the first time in the UK.
The landmark decision means post-menopausal women will be able to get hold of a low-dose HRT product over the counter from their local pharmacy without visiting their GP first.
It follows a Daily Mail campaign calling for women to have better access to HRT products and menopause information.
The announcement by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency applies to Gina 10-microgram tablets containing estradiol and follows a safety review.