TORFAEN council has unanimously backed new measures to support menopausal employees after councillors shared their own personal experiences of the menopause.

It is hoped the policy will help the 2,971 women employed by the authority and encourage a “culture change” within the workplace.

Chief executive Alison Ward stressed the importance of starting a conversation between male and female colleagues and moving away from treating the menopause as a taboo subject.

Women typically reach the menopause around the age of 51 but Councillor Kelly Preston is one out of every 100 women who experienced it before the age of 40.

Speaking at a meeting on May 14, Cllr Preston said: “I underwent surgery at 36 for health reasons and entered an immediate menopause.

“I expected hot flushes, but that I didn’t expect, and was not prepared for, was the psychological systems. I didn’t recognise myself.

“Almost overnight I went from a confident 30-something to feeling lost, numb and anxious, things I’ve never experienced before.”

Cllr Preston, and other female councillors, said the support of their colleagues, friends and family helped them get through the menopause.


But in many cases the menopause, and the severe symptoms that come with it, is still not recognised as a workplace issue – an issue the policy hopes to overcome.

Councillor Elizabeth Haynes said: “There’s an awful lot of people who still use it as a joke, and that’s hard to stomach.”

Under the new policy, staff and managers will receive training to raise awareness of the menopause and its effects on employees.

Other positive steps that will be considered by senior staff include offering flexible working hours, reviewing workplace temperatures and allowing employees to wear more comfortable clothing.

The policy was warmly welcomed across the chamber, with Councillor Fay Jones saying: “I think it’s a little spark of optimism for women that we can discuss this.”

Male councillors were also on hand to lend their full support, with Councillor Peter Jones saying the wellbeing of council staff was “absolutely critical”.

Councillor Ron Burnett commended his female colleagues for their bravery in coming forward and sharing their stories.

He said: “Years ago, if there was a problem with your wife or your mother, it would be seen as ‘women’s problems’ but it’s everybody’s problems, and it’s up to us to all to support them.”

Council leader Anthony Hunt said introducing the policy was the “right and sensible” thing for an employer to do, adding: “If we want to get the most out of our staff, if we want productive and contented staff, we need to take actions on things like this.”