There is mounting pressure on employers to follow Bank of Ireland’s lead and offer 10 days of menopausal leave

Employers at more than 120 technology and financial services companies are facing demands to give employees up to 10 days of paid menopausal leave.

The Financial Services Union (FSU) is to apply for a leave of absence for employees who suffer from symptoms after being granted special leave at a major bank.

The Bank of Ireland yesterday began offering up to 10 days of paid menopause leave to be taken within 12 months.

The AIB and Ulster Bank also offer managers support with manuals and advice, but no special leave, according to the union.

“I think the issue of menopause affects women not only in their personal lives but also in the workplace,” said Caitleen Desetti, FSU’s industrial relations organizer.

“It can create a lot of anxiety for women about how to speak to their boss and how to get through work as well.

“Equally important is to have the support so that management is there to support you with that.

“It’s great that Bank of Ireland has implemented it and it’s an example for other employers. The union is looking for similar policies from all employers.”

When asked if she would support employers offering extra leave for menopause, gynecologist Dr. Rotunda Hospital’s Vicky O’Dwyer: “I think we need to be aware of everyone’s health needs.”

Speaking at the opening of a new menopause clinic at Dublin Hospital, she said: “People have holidays because of other health issues and for those who are severely affected by menopause, you need to take that into account too.”

FSU yesterday launched a workplace counseling policy entitled ‘You don’t just go through menopause at home’. It sets out a draft policy for employers, and the FSU will seek to implement it in the 120 companies in which it operates.

Mandy La Combre, senior industrial relations officer at FSU, said the guidance policy could “finally put behind us decades of women feeling isolated and alone and suffering from symptoms at work without support”.

She said menopause has long been viewed as a private and personal matter surrounded by stigma. Some employers were slow to recognize that women going through menopause needed special attention.

The union handbook says part of the process involves perimenopause, which usually arrives in a woman’s mid-40s.

Perimenopause symptoms can be as severe as menopause in general.

“Surgical menopause can occur when women undergo certain surgeries and therefore often trigger menopausal symptoms at a much younger age,” it says.

“Menopause is a turning point in a woman’s life, not a disease, but it can have a major impact on a woman’s well-being. Menopause can affect everyone differently.”

It states that menopause can affect women, non-binary people, and some trans men.

“A trans man is someone who proposes going through a process, or part of a process, to change their gender from a woman to a man. Therefore, they can also experience perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms.”

A Bank of Ireland spokesman said its new policy would provide paid leave for staff suffering from a menopause-related illness.

Joanne Healy, the bank’s Head of Employee Relations, said: “We aim to help our colleagues through all stages of their lives, including through menopause. This new policy and training was introduced as an important support for our colleagues going through the menopause.

“We hope they will help us continue to build a work environment where everyone is treated with fairness, dignity and respect.” There is mounting pressure on employers to follow Bank of Ireland’s lead and offer 10 days of menopausal leave

Fry Electronics Team

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