Written evidence from Mrs Maureen Montague [MEW51]

 

MPs to examine lack of support for working menopausal women – The Guardian Friday 23 July 2021

Commons cross-party Women and Equalities Committee is seeking written submissions by 17 Sept on several issues surrounding menopause.

 

My name is Maureen Montague, I am 62 years of age, I have worked at the University of Greenwich Business School since November 1999.  I have been going through the menopause since 2010.  For the first five years I tried to cope with the symptoms and not go on HRT because my Sister had breast cancer.  The symptoms I suffered day and night were severe hot sweats day and night, anxiety, emotional, no confidence, lows in mood, hair falling out, trembling inside, burning legs at night.  I was so sleep derived due to the hot sweats; it would take me ages to get back to sleep then I’d wake up with another hot sweat.  I was so tired it impacted on my workThe symptoms wore me down

Due to this, I began making mistakes at work.  I pride myself in job, but the mistakes were making me more anxious, knocked my confidence, I was crying at work, I was a wreckOne mistake I made put my boss in an awkward position and this broke me.  it was at this point I thought that I would have to leave the job that I love because I could not cope, I could not do it anymore. I asked our HR Department for their Menopause Policy twice over the course of a couple of years, but they did not have one.

I cried my heart out to my husband and he suggested I go to the doctorsI felt I would take the risk of breast cancer to go on HRT to alleviate the symptoms so that I could work and feel myself again.

 

My written submission is on one of several issues surrounding menopause in the workplace ….what further legislation is required to enable employers to put in place a workplace menopause policy will also be a focus.”

I was one of the 3 in every 5 women who was negatively affected at work as a result of the menopause in my 50s.  Not by discrimination, but by the lack of knowledge, guidance, policy, help available in the workplace for me and other females, identifying as women.

The University of Greenwich currently employ 1036 women, which is 56% in its employment.  Within this group of employees, there are 290 (16%) who are within the age range of 45-55 years old (as at May 2021).

 

The symptoms of menopause both physically and mentally cause me to feel that I would have to resign from the job I loved.

I spoke up, I felt I could not be the only women in the University going through the menopause.  Between October – December 2020, I shared my journey of the menopause with staff across the University, with the aim of trying to get HR to implement some guidance/policy to support menopausal women now and for future generations.  Women were so grateful to me for opening the conversation up and raising awareness of it.  Staff listened (male/female).  Management listened.

Since February 2021 I have created a menopause arena for staff to talk in a safe/confidential space to share their experience of their menopause

Our Vice Chancellor, Professor Jane Harrington, has welcomed the proposal for developing guidance/policy for inclusivity of menopausal women.  We are now working towards becoming a Menopause Friendly Employer, with the help of an organisation called HenpickedWhat we have been working on so far:

              We have an email address Menopause@gre.ac.uk

              Developing a webpage for women to go to for information

              HR Guidance is being written and will be launched in October 2021

              Looking at Uniform materials

              Our Health & Safety Teams have a hub of fans, heaters, desk lamps for loan

              Implementing training for managers (male and female)

              Securing speakers to raise awareness of the Menopause:             

                                                                      Professor Joanna Brewis (May 2021)

                                                                      Carolyn Harris, MP Swansea (October 2021)

Further Government legislation is required to assist employers who are failing women going through the menopause.

 

September 2021