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Kate Hawkesby: Should workplaces help women going through menopause?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 27 Aug 2019, 9:26am
Research in the Netherlands found women lose up to 9 days productivity a year due to their cycle.  Photo / Getty Images

Kate Hawkesby: Should workplaces help women going through menopause?

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Tue, 27 Aug 2019, 9:26am

Should we have a menopause policy in place for women who need or want to take leave during times of uncomfortable or difficult symptoms?

I ask because British MPs are currently pushing for workplace policies to protect women going through menopause, they say it takes a hefty personal and professional toll on as many as one in four women.

In the UK, it's become a cross-party issue with MPs saying a menopause policy should be as commonplace as maternity schemes.

There's a menopause leave scheme in place closer to home too - Australia's Victorian Women's Trust in Melbourne, has a leave scheme in place not just for menopause but also menstruation.

The director of this Trust in Australia has been trialling the scheme for 3 years, whereby women can take up to 12 days paid leave a year if need be. 

So should such a scheme be brought in here? 

In the 3 years the scheme's been trialled in Melbourne, only 7 days, cumulatively. have been taken. 

So it's not something women are desperate for or grabbing at.. so is it even necessary?

Do we need extra leave for women, to account for periods and menopause? 

Can businesses afford to add menopause leave to paid parental leave, sick leave, bereavement leave, domestic violence leave?

Or are too many leave day options stacking up?

Would women actually even take this leave? 

And couldn't you argue it should fall under sick leave provisions?

The director of the Womens trust in Melbourne says it's not sick leave because menstruation is not a sickness.

She says it's an important biological function of a womans' body which deserves respect.. and which needs to be brought out of the shadows. She said research shows women don't take enough care of themselves because of the desire or pressure to soldier on. 

Research in the Netherlands found women lose up to 9 days productivity a year due to their cycle. 

So should they have the option of going home or staying home, on full pay, during these times?  

You could argue that for some women it's worse than others, and many women would never need to or want to take up the leave provisions if they were offered here.

But does that mean it shouldn't be at least offered?

I think many would argue that for lots of workplaces, equality is a pipe dream anyway, and something like this would never fly.. but should a modern workplace which wants to value all people, and to provide the most productive and safe workplace for everyone, not have policies in place to give women suffering menopause symptoms, some paid time out?

It's pause for thought.