Civil service launches menopause policy in drive to support staff

By on 20/03/2022 | Updated on 15/08/2023
Stormont, the base of the Northern Ireland Executive Photo: Pixabay
Stormont, the base of the Northern Ireland Executive Photo: Pixabay

The Northern Ireland Civil Service is to step up its support for women going through the menopause with a new policy and programme to raise awareness and understanding, and outline the support available.

The policy was published last week, and Northern Ireland Executive finance minister Conor Murphy, whose department has responsibility for HR for the civil service, said the policy was intended to “ensure our staff are supported to cope with the challenges and impact of the menopause”.

He added: “I hope this new menopause policy will create an environment where female employees feel confident to raise issues and ask for reasonable adjustments if necessary. Equipping managers to provide support will ensure women can continue in employment and have their needs taken into account.”

Women account for 50% of the 24,000 Northern Ireland Civil Service workforce. With over 55% of female employees over the age of 45, a significant number are likely to be affected by menopause.

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Jayne Brady, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, launched the policy alongside Murphy and health minister Robin Swann. Brady said the new policy builds on the civil service’s existing efforts to support women going through the menopause.

“In recent months we have delivered seminars on menopause with one event, ‘The M Word – Making the Menopause Mainstream’, attended by over 600 colleagues,” she said. “We are already seeing the benefit of increased awareness with departments establishing support groups for staff. This is only a first step for us as we want to continue to build on this progress through further guidance and the roll out of training to support the implementation of this policy.”

Swann highlighted the “hugely important” role that employers have to play in supporting woman through the menopause, and welcomed the initiatives the civil service is taking forward to support its female workforce.

UK-wide menopause taskforce

Swann attended the first meeting of the new Menopause Taskforce last month, which has been established across the UK’s four governments to co-ordinate and work together on support for women across all nations.

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The group is focused on improving care and support for women, and ending the taboos and stigmas that still surround what is a natural part of ageing, he said. “My department will continue to engage with the taskforce to identify any opportunities to improve menopause healthcare in Northern Ireland.”

The taskforce is made up of elected representatives, public servants and medical professionals to coordinate policy. The full list of members is:

  • Maree Todd MSP – minister for public health, women and sport, Scottish Government
  • Eluned Morgan MP – minister for health and social services, Welsh Government
  • Robin Swann MLA – minister of health, Northern Ireland Executive
  • Liz Truss MP – minister for women and equalities
  • Kwasi Kwarteng MP – secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy
  • Mims Davies MP – minister for employment
  • Ruth May – chief nursing officer for England
  • Matthew Cripps – director for behaviour change at NHS England and Improvement
  • Professor Marion Bain – senior public health adviser, Scottish Government
  • Sue Tranka – chief nursing officer, Welsh Government
  • Dr Heather Payne – senior medical adviser, Welsh Government
  • Dr Joanne McManus – clinical adviser, Northern Ireland Executive
  • Dr Charlie Beattie – clinical Adviser, Northern Ireland Executive
  • Mr Haitham Hamoda – chairman of the British Menopause Society and consultant gynaecologist
  • Dr Louise Newson – GP and menopause specialist

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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