10 January 2022
Equity President Maureen Beattie (pictured) has written to Maria Caulfield MP, Minister at the Department of Health and Social Care, about the government’s proposed Menopause Taskforce. Drawing on our recent member survey, we have urged the Minister to ensure that the taskforce is a vehicle for enhancing worker and social protections for women. We have also called for the experience and voice of both self-employed workers and the creative workforce to be represented on the Taskforce - so that policy solutions are sufficiently tailored to their needs.
The letter in full
RE: Menopause Taskforce
I am writing on behalf of Equity regarding the proposed Menopause Taskforce that you will co-chair alongside Carolyn Harris MP.
We are one of the UK’s largest trade unions of self-employed workers, representing over 47,000 performers and creative practitioners working across the entertainment industry. Our membership comprises a majority of women members, and tackling workplace discrimination faced by those experiencing the perimenopause and menopause is a key strategic priority for the union led by our Women’s Committee.
In a recent survey of our women members approximately 20% of participants commented on intimidatory and exclusionary behaviour in the workplace directly connected to their menopause. This situation is compounded by a lack of employment policies and practices to provide specific support and guidance, and we are working with employers and producers across the entertainment industry to improve the advice, guidance and support for performers and creative practitioners in this area.
Another key priority is to ensure that Equity members, and their respective employers, are aware of their statutory protections. Unfortunately, the statutory framework is piecemeal and lacks a specific focus on those in temporary, insecure work. As such, we are advocating for the menopause to be an explicit, new protected characteristic within the Equality Act (2010).
The announcement last year that the menopause will be addressed as part of the Women’s Health Strategy was very welcome. We are also delighted that the new taskforce will be encouraging faster action across the system, sharing best practice and taking a holistic view of support. I strongly urge you in your role as chair to also ensure that the taskforce is a vehicle for enhancing worker and social protections for women.
The creative industry is a major contributor to the UK economy, contributing £115.9 billion to the Exchequer in 2019 and supporting over 2 million jobs. It is essential that the experience and voice of both self-employed workers and the creative workforce are represented on the Taskforce so that policy solutions are sufficiently tailored for freelancers who face specific challenges due to the precarious nature of self-employment.
We believe that we would bring to the Taskforce significant experience and expertise, and I hope you will consider our request to join you in this important work.
I look forward to hearing from you.