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Menopausal women ‘should get flexible work hours’ – Labour conference

Under Labour plans to end stigma in the workplace, large employers would be required to allow flexible working hours for any woman who is going through menopause.

Dawn Butler, shadow equalities minister for the party announced the bold policy at the start of Labour’s conference in Brighton.

In addition to discussing flexible hours for menopausal women the party will also address expanding GP training, transport and the stance Labour is taking on Brexit.

The opening of the conference was unfortunately blighted by an argument over a bid to remove Tom Watson as deputy leader.

Ms Butler’s plans would require that companies with 250 staff or more set in place a training programme for managers on the effects of menopause. This would help them to accommodate the needs of women at that time.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development three in five menopausal women aged between 45 and 55 said that menopause has a negative impact on their work.

Ms Butler stated that the stigma attached to menopause needed to end. No woman should be placed at a disadvantage from menstruation to menopause.

Ambassador to the Eve Appeal Mandy Broadbent said that employers should be doing everything they could to make their female staff more comfortable at this time.

Ms Broadbent, who is 56, went on to say that menopause can be a drastic change in a woman’s life. They are never fully prepared for it and it can cause them to lose their self-confidence.

“The more flexible employers can be at this time; the more women would be able to reach their full potential.”

The plan would ensure that large employers adhere to absence procedures and become flexible. Menopause should be treated as a long-term fluctuating health condition.

Work conditions would need to be adapted, including providing adequate ventilation and easy access to cold water to help women deal with hot flushes. Flexible hours would be in place for when sleep is disturbed.

Most women will have some symptoms of menopause with the duration and severity varying with each woman. On average the symptoms will last about 4 years although 1 in 10 women will suffer for up to 12 years.

Women who experience menopause suddenly instead of gradually - such as after having treatment for cancers - will have worse symptoms.

Symptoms which may affect work performance include hot flushes which are short, sudden feelings of heat, normally in the face, neck and chest. This will make the skin hot and sweaty.

Night sweats and disturbed sleep will leave the person exhausted the following day, while problems with focus and concentration will leave a woman frustrated.

Mood swings and feelings of anxiety are other symptoms as are headaches, joint stiffness and muscle pains.  

Labour is also going to announce other policies including large companies publishing their action plans for closing gender pay gaps and tackling harassment issues at work through the Equality Act.

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