Irish Examiner view: Menopause leave is a welcome step forward

Bank of Ireland's new policy — announced during Menopause Awareness Week — ought to inspire other employers too
Irish Examiner view: Menopause leave is a welcome step forward

We may associate barriers to women's full participation in the workplace with the past, but paid menopause leave is one of many overdue innovations. Stock picture

The news that Bank of Ireland is to introduce paid menopause leave should be marked as a welcome step towards real inclusivity in the workplace — a step with tangible benefits for people as opposed to a box-ticking exercise.

Bank of Ireland employees who suffer from menopause-related symptoms will be entitled to 10 days of paid leave, while managers and HR personnel will also receive training on how best to support staff going through menopause in the workplace.

This is a significant improvement for a huge number of employees. Trade union research suggests 70% of women take time off work as a result of either period or menopausal pain, while participants in that research going through menopause said a lack of control over office temperatures often made their symptoms worse, for instance.

Bank of Ireland’s new policy coincides with Ireland’s first annual Menopause Awareness Week and is bound to put pressure on other organisations to introduce similar measures.

While paid leave is a welcome measure, the fact that Bank of Ireland is to train staff in supporting colleagues going through menopause is also a noteworthy step; by eliminating reticence in discussing menopause-related issues, staff will surely enjoy greater freedom and dignity in the workplace, which should be the objective of any employer.

Bank of Ireland will train staff to support colleagues going through menopause — a big step towards promoting dignity in the workplace. Stock picture
Bank of Ireland will train staff to support colleagues going through menopause — a big step towards promoting dignity in the workplace. Stock picture

In years to come, we may look back on the time when women going through menopause at work were not supported as a dark age — one comparable to the era when smoking was permitted in workplaces everywhere.

Hopefully, other organisations will follow Bank of Ireland’s lead.

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