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  1. ITV Report

Employers urged to recognise menopause in the workplace

Julie Bird set up a support group for colleagues after experiencing debilitating symptoms from menopause Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Employers are being encouraged to give more support to staff affected by the menopause.

Research from the Wales TUC found 88% of women who have experienced the menopause found it had an effect on working life, while 6 in 10 had witnessed the issue being treated as a joke in the workplace.

Julie Bird, from Swansea, has worked for Tesco for 39 years. Eight years ago, she started the menopause - and her symptoms were debilitating.

"I just felt lost and alone, that's the only way I can describe it really... I was struggling with anxiety, I didn't understand all the emotions I was feeling. The lack of concentration, my confidence, just everything around me really."

I found I just lost my will, pretty much my will to do anything, pretty much my will to live really.

– Julie Bird
Julie now visits Tesco stores across south Wales rolling out support groups for other colleagues Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Julie decided to set up a support group for colleagues experiencing similar symptoms - something which she says helped to give her "purpose" at her lowest point.

It proved a huge success - and she now visits other Tesco stores across south Wales, encouraging colleagues to talk about how the menopause affects them.

"I've always been very mindful of my colleagues anyway... but I've got such a wide support group now", said Julie.

Julie feels supported by Tesco, and is now calling on other employers to ensure that they recognise menopause in the workplace.

"We recognise maternity, we recognise mental illness. When it's such a drastic change to us females emotionally, and our bodies, why wouldn't we recognise it?"

A report published by the Wales TUC in 2017 found that only "a very small number" of workplaces have policies in place to support women who experience difficulties during the menopause.

The Wales TUC is currently working with Dawn Bowden AM to set up a cross party group to discuss the issue in the National Assembly.