A central plank of the Bill is to exempt Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) from NHS prescription charges in England, as is already the case in Wales and Scotland. However, it also addresses broader issues including the need to raise awareness amongst employers of the menopause as a workplace and occupational health issue.
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis says:
“We welcome Carolyn Harris’ Bill. This is a significant issue in our sectors where women are doing difficult and demanding jobs with little control over their working environment or hours of work.
“Working in customer facing roles, working nights, wearing uniforms made of polyester and short notice changes to hours as well as negative attitudes towards older women and a lack of awareness of the menopause can aggravate symptoms of the menopause and make it more difficult for them to raise the issue and ask for workplace adjustments.
“Usdaw believes it is time we stopped dismissing the menopause as a ‘women’s issue’ and recognised that it is a workplace health concern that involves physical and emotional changes that many women find difficult and exhausting.
“Things however are starting to change and the Menopause (Support and Services Bill) is crucial to furthering progress and engaging employers and policy makers with the issue. Usdaw is working with a range of employers to press for better support and more openness about the menopause at work.
Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East says:
“The menopause remains one of the last great taboos – badly funded and rarely discussed in public. It is also poorly understood in the workplace, in society at large and far too often, even in the doctor’s surgery.
"It is crucial we get this Bill over the line today. HRT is a lifeline for so many women going through menopause. Menopause is not a choice – half the population go through it, so it is essential that everyone can access the treatment they need.”
Note for Editors
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 370,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion