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Speaker aims to break ‘taboo’ and make Commons ‘menopause friendly’

Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Daniel Leal/PA)
Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Daniel Leal/PA)

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is planning to make the House of Commons a “menopause-friendly” employer, with possible adjustments including well-ventilated rooms and fans, flexible working and breathable uniforms.

The Commons Speaker said he wants to “break the taboo” on the menopause by getting “everyone in our parliamentary village talking” about it, and offering support to those affected.

He is set to sign the Menopause Workplace Pledge, launched by the Wellbeing of Women charity, which will commit the House of Commons Service to recognising, talking about and supporting employees going through the menopause.

Sir Lindsay said he does not want colleagues and staff to avoid promotion or leave Parliament because of their symptoms.

“I also want to break the taboo – just as we did with mental health issues – and get everyone in our parliamentary village talking about the menopause and offering support for those going through it,” he said.

“After all, we men are the husbands, partners, brothers, sons and colleagues of those facing the menopause, so it is particularly important that we are onboard as allies to offer our support and understanding.”

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause, as well as TV presenters Mariella Frostrup, Penny Lancaster, Liz Earle and Lisa Snowdon, will join the Speaker at the signing event on Monday.

HRT protest
Carolyn Harris joins prescription charge protesters outside the Houses of Parliament (Steve Parsons/PA)

Sir Lindsay hopes simple adjustments in the workplace and working patterns could make life easier for all those working in Parliament.

These could include well-ventilated rooms and access to fans; encouraging staff to talk about the menopause; flexible working; breathable uniforms; advice from on-site clinical nurses and occupational health teams; time off for related appointments; training for managers; and awareness events and cafes.

It comes after the civil service signed the Menopause Workplace Pledge at a special event on Tuesday.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “For some women, the symptoms of the menopause can be extremely debilitating and it’s absolutely crucial they feel confident asking for support at work.

“This pledge will ensure women working across the civil service feel supported. I encourage other businesses to do the same – big companies, such as Asda and Thames Water, are already joining us with this pledge to make sure their workplaces have menopause strategies in place.”

The Speaker will also encourage all MPs to sign the pledge to cover staff in their Commons and constituency offices.

Bupa previously estimated that nearly a million women in the UK had quit their jobs due to the menopause, with research showing those needing to take long-term absence from work to manage symptoms suffered damage to their careers.