HUNDREDS of thousands of menopausal women are in line to get flexible working, time off for GP visits and access to quiet rooms, a minister has told The Sun.
The Government is to sign a pledge to give those in the civil service more rights — and is encouraging other employers to do the same.
It is a win for The Sun’s Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign.
One in four women suffer symptoms including hot flushes, brain fog, anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping.
To mark International Women’s Day tomorrow, women’s health minister Maria Caulfield MP is signing the pledge to show the Government is leading by example.
It will commit ministers to support about 250,000 women in the civil service.
Policies may allow working from home, time off for doctor’s appointments and flexible hours.
Greater access to water coolers, a quiet room to help women experiencing hot flushes and good ventilation are other measures on the table.
It is hoped all employers will follow suit.
Companies will devise their own policies, tailored to the individual needs of their workforce.
Sun publisher News UK, PwC, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Santander UK have already signed up.
Ms Caulfield said: “We wouldn’t be asking employers to do this if we weren’t prepared to do the same ourselves.
“We really want women to feel they can ask their employer, ‘is there a menopause policy in place?’
“‘Am I entitled to take time off to ask my GP for HRT? Can we get fans, air conditioning or open a few windows, without having to be drenched in sweat first?'”
Almost one in three women are forced to take time off with symptoms, according to a recent government survey.
Ms Caulfield said: “That’s such a loss of talent, of women who are really in the prime of their life.
“The menopause isn’t just a few days or weeks, it’s a few years of a woman’s life.”
Ms Caulfield said the Menopause Workplace Pledge is not just a tickbox exercise, but serves to break down crippling taboos.
She hopes it will give women the “confidence to raise their needs with their employer if they are struggling”.
“The taboo seems to be lifting at last,” Ms Caulfield said.
“People weren’t talking about menopause a year ago. Campaigns like yours have really raised awareness.”
The Sun’s Fabulous Menopause Campaign was launched in August 2021 to help end the suffering of women going through the transition, once and for all.
Its three key aims are; a menopause policy at every workplace, cut the cost of HRT, and raise awareness of symptoms.
In October, ministers vowed to cut the cost of repeat prescriptions of HRT.
We’ve just managed to keep our jobs, but watched other women forced to leave
By Clare O’Reilly
I had to get permission for a fan
Sue O’Connor, 58, from Plymouth is a physiotherapy assistant.
“My job is pretty physically demanding which means I get lots of hot flushes at work.
“Working in a hospital means the heating is always on too.
“I get so the flushes can be really difficult to deal with at work.
“I’ve been able to get a fan for my desk so I can have it on while I write up my notes, but I had to get permission from the Matron to have it.
“I find the forgetfulness really difficult to deal with at work too.
“I make lists of everything I need to do but lists are only helpful if you remember to look at them and sometimes I forget to.
“I’ve had colleagues in the past ask me to do something and they’ve had to remind me because I forgot to put it onto my list.
“I even got in the car a few weeks ago to come to work and had forgotten how to drive, it took me a second to remember.
“I’m fortunate that the NHS is progressive when it comes to the menopause and I’ve just signed up to a menopause in the workplace course which I start in a couple of weeks, but not every working environment is as supportive as mine.
“I’ve seen colleagues leave their jobs because of how much they struggled to deal with menopause symptoms while working.”
I have to write everything down – otherwise I might lose my job
Graphic designer, Anna Rutter, 46, from Plymouth has found menopause has debilitating consequences on her work life.
“I don’t even know where to begin with how much it’s changed everything.
“I used to have an amazing memory and now, unless I write everything down, it goes out of my head instantly.
“I became forgetful too. I’d take longer than normal at lunch and coffee breaks, because I’d get chatting about the menopause with my middle age cleaner colleagues and would lose track of time.
“I’ve changed what I wear to work too.
“I wear lots of layers as one minute I’ll be boiling hot then the next I’ll need handwarmers.
“I have to work with printers a lot at work and scheduling always used to be one of my strong points, but I’ve become a nightmare.
“I’m always sending emails at the last minute when I’ve forgotten to book things in.
“It feels like I struggle to keep hold of all the things in my life outside of work too.
“I have two teenage sons Gabe, 13 and Sam, 16, and I find juggling work with their clubs, school and life in general with work almost impossible.
“I’m on HRT now which massively helps with the symptoms, but I have to make lists for everything and set timers and reminders on my phone.
“If I couldn’t do that, I’m not sure how long I’d keep my job.”
I wouldn’t answer the phone
Freelance hair stylist Sophie Beije, 46, from Newton Ferrers, South Hams had to adapt her business to cope with menopausal symptoms.
“When I first started experiencing symptoms in my late 30s, early 40s, I went to the GP who was male.
“He told me I was too young to be menopausal, so for years I just tried to live with the symptoms.
“I’d get hot flushes at work but be able to use wet wipes and fresh deodorant in between clients.
“I started developing pretty bad anxiety to the point I couldn’t bring myself to talk on the phone or even answer it, but I was able to move my business online for bookings and appointments, so I found a way around that too.
“Brain fog meant I’d sometimes double book appointments by accident but fortunately my client base have always been really lovely and understanding on the occasions that happened.
“Over a year or so I went from feeling fine and thriving to feeling like I’d lost myself.
“It’s my job to be on top of trends and be able to do the latest cut colour and styles or whatever, but I started doubting my abilities, lacking confidence in my abilities.
“I’ve run a really high end salon in the heart of London, I’m good at my job and I always have been, but I started to really lack confidence and doubt my abilities.
“If I’d been working in my old salon in London, I really don’t think I’d have been able to keep my job.
“I finally went back to the doctor and saw a female GP in 2020 and have been on HRT since then.
“I’m fortunate my business weathered my menopause, but I don’t think the same always applies for everyone in my industry.”
Fabulous Menopause Matters
An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.
Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about.
The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries.
The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.
The campaign has three aims:
- To make HRT free in England
- To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
- To bust taboos around the menopause
The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP.
Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through the menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through the menopause.
50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that.