West Lothian Council approves menopause policy

West Lothian Council in Scotland has agreed to bring in a menopause policy for staff.

The Scottish local authority’s executive approved a draft plan that includes flexible working, an employee assistance programme and an initiative to support attendance. Some of these measures are expected to be available early in the new year.

West Lothian decided more than a year ago to develop support for those experiencing the menopause. More than 70% of the council’s 8,500 employees are women, and a significant number of these are aged between 41 and 60, the age group most likely to need dedicated help.

The local authority said the proposed changes support its commitment to providing an inclusive working environment for all employees, recognising that those experiencing the menopause may need additional consideration and adjustments. It is also designed too ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the workforce and encourage everyone to contribute to a respectful and productive working environment.

The initiative will additionally raise awareness among managers about how the menopause can affect staff, which the council says will help create a culture where employees experiencing it will feel confident to discuss their experiences and ask for support.

The council’s report on the policy explained that it recognises its obligation to support employees in working through and beyond the menopause, with the potential benefits of doing so including staff retention, reduced sickness absence and increased productivity.

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It said: “Adopting a policy that considers the health and wellbeing implications of menopause on our workforce would support employees and assist the council in creating an inclusive workplace culture where staff of all ages and genders feel respected.

“There is also a legal argument for doing more to support employees dealing with menopausal symptoms. Whilst menopause is not in itself a disability, conditions arising from it may meet the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Failing to provide support or make reasonable adjustments for someone experiencing menopausal symptoms may therefore amount to discrimination.”