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‘Women need to be made to feel comfortable taking menopause leave’


Menopause leave from work should go hand in hand with period leave, England’s first ever Menopause Employment Champion has said (Alamy/PA)

England’s first-ever Menopause Employment Champion said a culture change is needed before such a policy would work.

 

Women are unlikely to take menopause leave from work unless there is a cultural change, England’s first employment champion on the subject has said.


Helen Tomlinson said the introduction of time off work to deal with menopause symptoms would be a positive step.


But she warned there is more work to do to make women feel comfortable taking a menopause leave day as opposed to a general sick day.


She also said period leave should go hand-in-hand with it as part of a broader female health strategy.


England’s first ever Menopause Employment Champion has called for a culture change (Helen Tomlinson/PA)

The Head of Talent (UK & Ireland) at The Adecco Group was announced as Menopause Employment Champion on March 6.


The new independent role is aimed at improving workplace support and Ms Tomlinson has said she wants to “break the menopause taboo”.


Asked if there should be specific menopause leave for workers, she told the PA news agency: “I don’t think that it would necessarily work particularly effectively, until that culture change is really embedded.”


She added: “I think it would be a positive step but I come back to the fact that it is about how comfortable people feel taking it.”


I think there will always be the preference of taking sick leave or saying 'I'm taking sick leave', rather than feeling comfortable saying 'I'm taking menopause leave or period management leave' as an example

Helen Tomlinson


She said period leave and menopause leave would be “inextricably linked”, explaining that one of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be heavy periods.


“The two things are very much linked,” she said.


“I think before that could come into play effectively there needs to be more cultural focus on people feeling comfortable saying that is why they are taking that leave, otherwise, I think there will always be the preference of taking sick leave or saying ‘I’m taking sick leave’, rather than feeling comfortable saying ‘I’m taking menopause leave or period management leave’ as an example.”


Ms Tomlinson also said she believed considering menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act could be something to be looked at if the legislation was to be subject to a “broader review”

.

She said: “All the cases that have gone to tribunal have come under age or sex discrimination in the ones that I’ve seen, so they are protected in some respects, but in the future, I think if there was a review, it is something that could be looked at in that review.”



The Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch has dismissed suggestions that the menopause should be given a special legally protected status (Victoria Jones/PA)

Recently, the Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch dismissed suggestions that the menopause should be given a special legally protected status.


In an appearance before the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, she argued women could already make use of anti-discrimination measures based on age, sex and disability.


The minister said the menopause was on a long list of characteristics that campaigners had claimed should be written into the Equality Act, including “having ginger hair” or “being short”.


The NHS lists symptoms of menopause as including problems with memory or concentration, hot flushes and difficulty sleeping, among others.


Ms Tomlinson said her priorities in her new role are ensuring practical steps are taken to support employees – such as remote working or adjusted hours – normalising the conversation around menopause and making efforts to see fewer women leaving the workplace as well as others feeling comfortable enough to return knowing they will be supported.


She said: “It shouldn’t be a time when you step down, step back or step out altogether. If you want to progress in your career, you absolutely should be able to.”

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