Issues related to menopause and perimenopause, Submission by the Australian Council of Trade Unions to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee

Policies, Publications & Submissions - May 10, 2024

Submission by the Australian Council of Trade Unions to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee on issues related to menopause and perimenopause

The ACTU welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee on issues related to menopause and perimenopause.

The impact on workers of menopause, perimenopause, and reproductive health more broadly is significant, yet still poorly understood and largely taboo in the workplace.  Those impacts include reduced wellbeing and economic participation, discrimination, and withdrawal from the labour market, with significant implications for gender equality and women’s economic security. As men have traditionally been considered the default worker, the reproductive body and the physiological transitions women go through, including menstruation and menopause, have not been taken into account. There is growing evidence that this failure to recognise the reproductive bodies of workers over the life course (from childbearing and caring years through to menopause) can have significant negative consequences for workers, employers, business, the economy, and gender equality.

While menopause and perimenopause have historically been regarded as issues that solely affect women, the ACTU’s submission recognises and affirms that these physiological transitions are also experienced by gender diverse workers, including trans men, non-binary and intersex workers. Accordingly, the ACTU’s recommendations are inclusive of all affected workers.

Our submission will respond to the terms of reference of the Inquiry regarding (a) the economic consequences of menopause and perimenopause; and (g) the level of awareness amongst employers and workers, and the awareness, availability and usage of workplace supports.

A number of the ACTU’s affiliates have done significant work on issues relating to menopause and reproductive health more broadly, which will be outlined in this submission. This includes:

  • Surveying members on the issue
  • Bargaining for reproductive leave and workplace adjustments
  • Developing materials and resources
  • Undertaking/commissioning research

The ACTU also included questions regarding menstruation and menopause in its 2023 ‘Work Shouldn’t Hurt’ Survey, the results of which are summarised in the attached submission.

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The ACTU Network

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