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Menopause leave rejected by the Government – Usdaw continues the campaign for statutory workplace rights

Date: 24 January 2023 Retail trade union Usdaw is deeply disappointed that the Government has today rejected calls for a large scale pilot of menopause leave and a recommendation from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee to make menopause a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equalities Act.
Usdaw has vowed to continue their campaign to raise awareness of the menopause, for better workplace rights, along with supporting improved health and well-being for women in mid-life and beyond. The union plans to launch a new campaign on International Women’s Day, Wednesday 8 March 2023.
In rejecting the recommendations, the Government said that the proposal for a pilot scheme on menopause leave was not seen as necessary and could turn out to be counterproductive, “We are focusing our efforts on disseminating best practice and encouraging employers to implement workplace menopause policies” the Government said.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is deeply disappointing that the Government wouldn’t even take the initial step of agreeing to a pilot to test the effectiveness of menopause leave, but instead appear to have predetermined it as ‘counterproductive’. We note that the Government wants to encourage employers to agree new menopause policies, but those are best implemented with statutory rights. Usdaw has been successful in negotiating such facilities with many major employers and we are working with others for improvements, but putting into law minimum standards helps ensure that many more workers are covered.
“The menopause is clearly a key workplace issue, it is a health and safety issue and an equalities issue, which affects all women at some stage in their lives. People from non-binary, transgender and intersex communities may also experience menopausal symptoms. The number of older women in work is rising all the time, a trend that is set to continue as retirement ages rise and the birth rate falls. Women make up over half of the UK population and there are over three and a half million women of menopausal age in work.
“Given that one-in-three women in the UK are currently going through or have reached the menopause, it is shocking that there is still so much stigma, discrimination and lack of awareness about it. Usdaw believes it is high time employers and others stopped dismissing the menopause as just a 'women's issue'. The Government has today missed I significant opportunity to make a real difference to the working lives of so many women.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 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

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