The government has appointed its first ‘menopause employment champion’, The Adecco Group’s Helen Tomlinson, who will advise on how women experiencing menopause symptoms can be retained and progress in work.
Tomlinson, head of talent for the UK and Ireland at the recruitment company, takes up the position in a voluntary capacity, and will work with Mims Davies, the minister for social mobility, youth and progression, and women’s health ambassador Dame Lesley Regan to help employers develop menopause policies.
Her role will involve advising employers on changes they could make to the workplace, such as offering more regular breaks, changes to uniforms or creating cooler spaces in offices for those experiencing hot flushes.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, women with serious menopausal symptoms take an average of 32 weeks off work, while one in four has considered giving up work altogether.
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With 51 being the average age a woman reaches menopause, the DWP’s focus on menopause support chimes with recent comments from ministers around retaining more over-50s to address labour shortages.
Tomlinson has hosted a podcast on menopause at work and has supported the development of a menopause policy at Adecco.
Training for managers has been introduced and a community of menopause ‘allies’ has been created, who share advice about how employees experiencing menopause symptoms can continue to thrive.
“I have witnessed the transformational power that opening up conversations on the menopause can have in a workplace. By creating safe spaces by educating management and creating allies across workforces, women can be supported and empowered to manage their symptoms and thrive in work,” Tomlinson said.
“Less than a quarter of UK businesses currently have a menopause policy, but as I take on this role, I am determined that my generation of women in work will break the menopause taboo and have confidence that their health is valued. I look forward to working with women and leaders across all sectors of work to address this gap and make a difference for current and future generations.”
Davies said: “Menopause is a major driver of too many women leaving the workforce early, often when they are at the peak of their skills and experience with so much more still to contribute.
“Working positively with employers is vital to ensure they can recruit and retain women experiencing menopause and stop women perhaps considering giving up their employment due to the impact.”
Tomlinson’s appointment has received support from the government’s business champion for older workers, Phoenix Group CEO Andy Briggs.
He said: “The appointment of Helen Tomlinson as the government’s menopause employment champion is a critical step in ensuring that the menopause is given the attention needed to become a key workplace issue, instead of one that is all too often considered taboo, and that businesses are held accountable for actively creating menopause-friendly workplaces.
“As a minimum, employers should have a dedicated leave policy and procedures in place to support people going through the menopause. This will help ensure that people are able to have fulfilling working lives towards the later stages of their careers.”
The government recently rejected a recommendation to make menopause a protected characteristic under equality law.
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