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Women Are Finally Being Offered Paid Leave For Menopause

Channel 4 has announced a new menopause policy that will enable female employees to take paid leave when dealing with the symptoms.

The Menopause Policy was announced on Friday, 18 October; World Menopause Day.

Launched by 4Woman - Channel 4’s in-house gender equality staff network – the policy will also offer private, cool and quiet workspaces as well as workspace assessments to ensure that the surroundings are not worsening menopause symptoms.

Menopause symptoms can range from irregular periods and hot flushes to more serious side-effects like increased anxiety, problems with concentration, recurrent UTIs and heart palpitations.

According to NHS Inform, symptoms last around four years on average.

"This is Channel 4 living its remit, normalising a taboo subject by making it more visible, and we hope that 4Women’s fantastic work will inspire more in the industry to support women in their workplaces transitioning through the menopause," said Alex Mahon, the Channel 4 chief executive.

The group has also stated that they hope the new policy will encourage better support of menopausal women across industries.

It's commonly known that the subject of menopause remains a taboo in the workplace. Many women are forced to take time off when side-effects deem them too unwell to work. 

Back in August, Labour MP Carolyn Harris told the Guardian: 'You wouldn’t dream of having a workplace where people weren’t entitled to certain things because they were pregnant, and it’s exactly the same for women with the menopause.

'I firmly believe there should be legislation to make sure every workplace has a menopause policy, just like they have a maternity policy.'

In fact, the often unspoken impact of menopause on women at work has even become a cross-party issue.

Conservative MP Rachel Maclean was the first to speak out about it in the House of Commons and has been campaigning to normalise menopause as a workplace issue.

She said she wants women to be able to have time off or change shift patterns or conditions of work when they need relief from symptoms that often go well beyond the stereotypical hot flushes and night sweats.

Closer to home, The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is calling for greater workplace support for the estimated 300,000 women within the menopause age group.

Loretta Dignam from the Menopause Hub told the Irish Examiner that there are a number of things employers can do.

"You can incorporate, into your sickness and absence policies, aspects around menopause," sshe said.

"Flexible working could be an issue as well and then risk assessments. Some women don't have access to cold water, they might be sitting in an area that they can't regulate the temperature so they have a lot of hot flushes.

"So they might need maybe access to aircon, or to a window or to a fan at their desk."

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