'There is much work underway already and we want to… avoid risk of duplication of efforts'
Politicians in the UK have shot down a recommendation to pilot a "menopause leave" policy in the public sector, calling the move "counterproductive" with the government's strategy.
According to the ministers, there already is a Women's Health Strategy for England published in 2022 that aims to support menopausal women so they remain in the workplace.
The strategy also ensures that employers can implement workplace menopause policies and other forms of support that can assist people in menopause to remain work.
"We are concerned that specific menopause leave may be counterproductive to achieving this goal," the government said.
In 2022, research found that Google searches for "menopause leave" saw a 1,300% year-on-year increase since 2018.
Recommendation made in 2022
The government was rejecting a recommendation first made by the Women and Equalities Committee in 2022, where they called on the government to work with a large public sector employer and pilot a "menopause leave policy" that would be evaluated within 12 months.
In shooting down the suggestion, the government said there is already a workplace menopause policy within the Civil Service, one of the largest UK employers. There is also work underway in the National Health Service, another large public sector employer, for supporting women to remain and thrive in the workplace.
"The government therefore does not believe that introducing or piloting a specific policy for menopause leave is necessary," it said in its response.
Instead, the government said it will focus its efforts on disseminating best practice and encouraging the implementation of workplace menopause policies and other forms of support that can help women remain in workplaces.
Model menopause policies
The government also turned down the recommendation of developing a model menopause policy to assist employers.
The model policy would cover how employees can request reasonable adjustment and other support, advice on flexible working, sick leave for menopause symptoms, among others.
However, the government said it believes that such model is also not necessary at the moment.
“There is much work underway already and we want to focus on highlighting and sharing best practice, which will avoid risk of duplication of efforts," the government said.
"We consider signposting employers to relevant policies within their industry will be more effective, as employers can then adapt and tailor those policies to make them appropriate to their organisation."
Member of Parliament Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, expressed her disappointment with the government's response.
"This belated response to our report is a missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce, and leaves me unconvinced that menopause is a government priority," Nokes said in a statement.
According to the MP, their Menopause and the workplace report highlighted that urgent action was needed across healthcare and workplaces to address women's needs.
"[Yet] government progress has been glacial and its response complacent," the MP said.
Strong momentum worldwide
Across the UK, many employers have been implementing their own menopausal leave policy to support women. A Birmingham- and London-based nightclub The Night Owl pledged last year to address the stigma and prejudice on menopause in workplaces.
In addition to menopause, menstruation-related workplace policies are also gaining traction across the world. Spain's lower house last year greenlit a bill that will grant women paid leave in cases of painful menstruation.
In Australia, Future Super introduced its own menstrual and menopause leave for employees to help "normalise the processes women's bodies go through."
In the Philippines, the province of La Union has allowed its government employees to work from home on days that they have their period.
In Canada, the government recently proposed to make menstrual products more accessible to workers in federally regulated workplaces.