SCOTLAND'S largest employer has introduced a new policy to help women going through the menopause or suffering from menstrual difficulties.

NHS Scotland has launched its menopause and menstrual health workplace policy – with women’s health minister Jenni Minto hailing it as a “positive example”.

The Scottish Government minister added she hoped the move would lead to “equivalent efforts” from across the public, private and charitable sector.

The NHS in Scotland employs a total of 181,723 staff across the country, figures from the end of March 2023 showed, and of those 77% are women.

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The new policy will mean affected women can have access to washroom facilities, as well as flexible breaks and working hours.

They will also be able to access period products and to take their own pain medication, as well as being given somewhere suitable to store them.

Minto said: “It’s important to foster a culture of awareness and compassionate management in the workplace so women feel confident and comfortable in raising issues around their menopause or menstrual health.

“NHS Scotland’s policy will recommend a number of measures that will make work life easier such as flexible breaks and working arrangements.

“This is a positive example of an employer taking proactive steps to reduce barriers to women’s health in the workplace and we hope it promotes equivalent efforts across the public, private and third sectors.”

The new policy is based on recommendations from a study of NHS employees carried out by Professor Kathleen Riach, who said: “NHS Scotland’s new menopause and menstrual health workplace policy marks a vital step in ensuring all employees are valued, supported and recognised as an integral part of the country’s workforce, no matter their age or stage of their reproductive lives.

“Healthier women mean a healthier economy.

“By identifying and scaling some of the best practice currently existing across the NHS Scotland workforce, as well as introducing new evidence-based practises, this policy will ensure the menstrual status of women is no barrier to jobs and careers in healthcare.”