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Aberdeenshire MSP Gillian Martin welcomes findings calling for support for menopausal women in the workplace

By Kirsty Brown

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Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has welcomed the findings from a report by the UK Government’s Women and Equalities Committee calling for greater rights and protection in the workplace for women experiencing the menopause.

The cross-party group wants menopause to become a protected characteristic like pregnancy to give working women more rights.

The group of MPs also said offering menopause leave should also be piloted at a large public sector employer.

She has previously written to both Aberdeenshire Council and NHS Grampian regarding a workplace policy to ask what support was in place.

The Women’s and Equalities Committee has now said the omission of the menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act was no longer tenable as 51 percent of the population would experience the transition.

Employment law – which any changes would fall under – is currently reserved to Westminster.

Most women go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with symptoms lasting about four years on average.

Symptoms include hot flushes, anxiety, depression and sleep, memory and concentration problems.

Ms Martin has also previously written of her own experience with the menopause and challenges around supplies of medication due to demand.

Research has shown more than four million women aged between 50 to 64-years-old are currently employed.

And women with at least one problematic menopausal symptom were 43 percent were more likely to have left their jobs by the age of 55-years-old.

Last year the Scottish Government launched a Women’s Health Plan which outlined 66 actions including the creation of specialist menopause services.

Commenting, Gillian Martin said: “We know women are less likely to seek workplace adjustments, such as flexible working, because they are worried about how an employer will react.

“It is essential that women who are experiencing the menopause feel supported and that their needs will be treated sensitively and seriously.

“The peri-menopausal period and menopausal period can be very challenging for women and a discussion about how women go through the experience is long overdue.

“I think menopause has to be framed in a way that is something that happens naturally to all women, and not a disease, condition and certainly not something to be sniggered at.

“There’s a danger that employers might view middle-aged women at menopausal age as a problem if this isn’t handled right but small changes could make a huge impact for women in the workplace.”

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