Inquiry into issues related to menopause and perimenopause

Read our submission here.

Women’s Legal Services Australia welcomes the Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into the issues related to menopause and perimenopause. There are a range of issues related to menopause and perimenopause affecting Australian women every day.

There are six Women’s Legal Services across Australia funded to assist women with employment, discrimination, and sexual harassment legal issues at work, and regularly encounter women who are experiencing problems at work relating to sexual and reproductive health issues, including in relation to menopause and perimenopause.

Investing in sexual and reproductive health is a gender equality measure, and is cost effective, with the potential to minimise future health system costs and to realise significant benefits at the personal, family, and societal levels.

Workplaces have an important role to play in supporting employees to address reproductive health issues and should do so without imposing penalties on women. Most women will experience menopause and perimenopause in their lifetime, and it is important that workplaces are not penalising women based on their gender.

We are concerned existing entitlements in the workplace to take paid personal/carer’s leave are inadequate to support reproductive health. Unfortunately, existing leave entitlements only cover illness or injury. Leave entitlements should be expanded to cover menopause and perimenopause, or in the alternative, there should be a new form of universal reproductive health leave entitlement that would allow additional paid days of leave for reproductive and sexual health reasons, including menopause and perimenopause.

We are also concerned employers are refusing to allow women to engage in flexible work arrangements despite the benefits of working from home, and the impacts of menopause and perimenopause on women. Reproductive health should be added as an additional circumstance that supports a right to request a flexible work arrangement.


  1. That the paid personal/carer’s leave provision in section 97 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) be amended to extend coverage beyond personal illness or injury, to include reproductive health issues, and to provide care and support to a member of the employee’s immediate family, or a member of the employee’s household who requires care and support because of reproductive health issues.
  2. That the Fair Work Ombudsman develop easy to understand resources for employers and employees on how menopause, peri and post-menopause, and other reproductive health conditions, can create the ability for employees to access their personal/carer’s leave entitlements. These resources should include material on how to sensitively deal with employees’ personal health information.
  3. Add “the employee has reproductive health grounds” as a ground in section 65 (1A) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) as circumstances in which an employee may request a flexible working arrangement.
  4. That the Commonwealth Government introduce a new form of paid reproductive health leave entitlement of up to 10 days per year for all employees on the same terms and conditions as the paid family and domestic violence leave provisions.