Nick Smith MP speech – Private Members Bill, Menopause (Support and Services) – 29/10/21
I want to pay tribute to my honourable friend, the Member for Swansea East, for her great campaigning on this issue.
I want today to look at the issue of menopause and employment.
There are around 14 million workdays lost each year in the UK due to the menopause.
And a TUC survey found nearly 9 in 10 women say it has affected their working life.
How a woman experiences the menopause in the workplace can be dramatically shaped by what her employer does.
Here’s one story from a woman called Barbara who spoke to the Wellbeing of Women charity. She said:
My memory was shot to pieces.
I felt hot and sweaty all the time.
I didn’t want to speak up in meetings for fear of people noticing how heavily I was sweating and how flushed I look.
Overnight, I felt I’d lost all my confidence in my ability to do my job.
When Barbara went to her employer, they said the right things, but didn’t understand enough, about what support was needed.
There are so many stories like this.
Around 900,000 women have left their jobs because of the menopause.
So something has to change.
Some women have more severe symptoms than others.
That is why employers must be proactive and flexible.
A tick box exercise will not work.
This is why organisations such as the Welsh TUC have produced fantastic resources for union reps to give advice on what they can do.
There are already some companies doing good stuff.
Like Santander who have started training managers to better understand the menopause.
Places like Sainsburys who brought together colleagues to tackle this topic.
And HSBC who have introduced menopause champions to encourage more conversations at work.
It is fantastic that more and more women are speaking about the menopause.
When Andrea McLean spoke about her experiences on Loose Women, she said that within 24 hours, 10,000 women had got in touch.
Workplace well being for women, needs a helping hand today.
We must send a message to employers that they need to put menopause policies and support in place.
They need to play their part so that women like Barbara are given the respect and dignity that they deserve.
Parliament needs to support this important bill today