The creation of a group to examine how we can better support civil service employees going through menopause is a welcome development, according to Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins.
Deputy Higgins, who has previously raised the issue of menopause supports in the Dáil said: “It is really positive that the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) is establishing a working group to look at this important women’s health issue.
“Almost 60% of the civil service workforce is made up of women, and the aim of the group is to proactively understand and better support women through the menopause in the civil service. This is in line with Programme for Government commitments in the area of women’s health.
“Menopause can be a hugely challenging time for women, both physically and mentally.
“Like with many women’s health issues, menopause was not discussed openly in the past, but thankfully that is changing.
“We are now more aware than ever of the challenges for women as well as the availability of treatments to help overcome those challenges. This awareness must happen in the workplace too and arrangements should be put in place to support women experiencing severe menopause symptoms.
“The Department for Public Expenditure and Reform said there are currently no plans to introduce menopause leave, however the working group should consider adopting a policy for employers with information on how to support women experiencing menopause symptoms.
“This includes giving staff flexibility when requesting time off to attend medical appointments, developing training for human resources personnel and fostering a culture where women feel comfortable talking about their experience with their mangers.
“The Menopause Hub reported previously that 22% of women experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms have missed 3 or more days of work a result, with 85% not feeling they could tell their employer the real reason for time off work.
“Worryingly, 43% of these women have actually considered giving up work because of their symptoms.
“I have said previously I would welcome employers taking this on board and designing organisational policies on the menopause as well as delivering menopause training for management and HR staff to help increase awareness of these issues in the workplace.
“Regarding services, there is one specialist menopause clinic in Dublin, but three more such clinics are on the way, and the Taoiseach confirmed to me that it is the Government’s intention to establish them this year. It is vital that women all across the country have access to the menopause supports they need”, concluded Deputy Higgins.