A Scottish council passes a groundbreaking policy to protect women’s rights at work

South Lanarkshire Council logo
Brian Finlay

On 15 August, South Lanarkshire Council executive committee passed a policy to protect women’s rights at work.

The policy aims to:

make managers aware of menopause related issues and how they can affect their employees

SNP councillor Katy Loudon expressed her joy on Twitter:

Loudon also provided stats which highlighted why the policy is so important for the council’s workers:

The policy will go live on World Menopause Day, on 18 October 2018.

Requirement for a menopause policy?

Many professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC highlight the importance of workplaces addressing issues around the menopause.

A TUC report summarised:

[the menopause is] very rarely discussed and many managers will have no awareness of the issues involved. This means many women feel that they have to hide their symptoms and will be less likely to ask for the adjustments that may help them.

This must change.

So South Lanarkshire Council’s adopting this policy reflects both the advice from professional bodies and striving for equality.

The policy also aligns with the council’s commitment to employees:

to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and with dignity and respect in their working environment

“Taboo”

Loudon told The Canary why it’s important for local authorities to adopt such policies:

I’m delighted that this policy is now in place at South Lanarkshire. I’ve campaigned on period poverty for several years alongside my Women for Independence sisters, and there are clear parallels between the issues; this is a near-universal health issue experienced by women, it can severely impact the lives of some, and it’s still seen as ‘taboo’ in some circles.

She went on to say:

If we don’t tackle issues like this straight on, they can disempower women in the workplace. This policy, and the campaign surrounding it, aims to ensure that won’t happen. I’m very proud of our Depute Provost, Collette Stevenson, for starting a conversation about menopause within our group, and getting us to a point where we now have a concrete policy for employees…

The reaction

People on Twitter have supported the new policy:

SNP Councillor Elena Whitham of Inverclyde Council was keen to know more:

Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon also congratulated the work of the executive committee:

A policy like this can be beneficial for the entire workforce because it opens up discussion and promotes awareness. As a result, inclusive and open workplaces can provide a positive working environment for everyone to be themselves.

All workers’ rights should be underpinned by policies like this. So, let’s hope this will be the start of policies addressing issues surrounding the menopause and other ‘taboo’ subjects in the workplace.

As reported by the TUC, “there are an estimated three and a half million women over the age of 50 currently in work” and it’s only set to rise. This policy could improve life substantially for women – and it’s time councils and employers across the UK followed suit.

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Featured image via South Lanarkshire Council/Twitter

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