Sadiq Khan to give ‘menopause leave’ to staff and allow extra work breaks

City Hall staff going through the menopause are set to soon benefit from additional leave and the option to work in temperature-controlled rooms. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says his new menopause policy will be “world leading” and help to shift perceptions surrounding menopause in the workplace.

It’s being announced on International Women’s Day, following a consultation with staff and unions, and will apply to the Greater London Authority’s 1,000-strong workforce. As part of the new policy, staff will be encouraged to challenge inappropriate behaviour or derogatory remarks about the menopause, and to have a “general awareness” of menopause issues.

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods, with symptoms often including hot flushes, anxiety and disrupted sleep. Staff experiencing the menopause are entitled to request workplace support and adjustments, which could include temperature-controlled areas, as well as the potential for extra breaks if symptoms become severe plus time to attend appointments.

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The new City Hall building in Newham, where the Greater London Authority will soon be based

Anyone experiencing menopausal symptoms should get the same support and understanding as if they had any other health issue, the mayor’s office says. City Hall chiefs added that the new approach will challenge the “taboo” surrounding menopause, which can prevent staff from accessing the support they need or leave them feeling embarrassed or anxious in the workplace.

Recent research shows that around 80 per cent of women will experience noticeable menopause symptoms, both physical and psychological, while 59 per cent of those going through the menopause said that they experience symptoms that affect them at work.

A 2019 survey found that three in five menopausal women in the UK were negatively affected by symptoms at work, and almost one million women in the UK have left their job because of menopausal symptoms. The survey also showed that 72 per cent of menopausal women felt unsupported at work; 30 per cent had taken sick leave; and over half did not disclose the reason for their absence from work.

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Unison union general secretary, Christina McAnea, said: “The emotional and physical changes of the menopause can’t be underestimated. Nor can their effect on women’s jobs. Good employers want to ensure the best possible working environment.

“Women must be able to do their jobs in comfort and not feel stigmatised either…working alongside Unison, the Mayor and Greater London Assembly have created a bold, supportive policy that leads the way.”

Mr Khan said he was launching the plan as a “proud feminist”. He added: “Employers have a responsibility to create truly inclusive workplaces and part of that means ensuring there is an understanding of the menopause and how it can affect staff, and challenging the taboos surrounding the subject, which all too often prevent people from getting the support they need.

“Women of all ages deserve to feel welcomed and accepted at work…there should be no stigma or shame associated with the menopause, and by opening up this conversation, I want to show that a workplace discussion about menopause is normal, and that we can remove the stigma around those experiencing the menopause. I want to encourage all other employers across London and the country to learn from our approach and follow suit.”

I joined MyLondon as the outlet’s first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, the London Assembly, the Met police, Transport for London, and wider London politics.

I moved to South London from Brussels in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society, and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. I’m originally from Cornwall and love the sea – but also London’s liveliness. I’m a big fan of puns, tea and twee folk music.

If there’s a good untold story – whether it’s housing nightmares, unfair decisions or local scandals, you can be sure I’ll aim to cover it. Got a story, piece of gossip or feedback? Get in touch at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter.

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