Thanks to Alec Shelbrooke MP, member of the APPG on Endometriosis, MPs had a chance to debate the supported needed in the workplace for those with endometriosis - a vital topic for many with the condition. This Westminster Hall debate took place on Wednesday 9 February 2022.
If you missed the debate, you can watch it now here.
Mr Shelbrooke opened the debate by sharing stories of women with endometriosis who had faced discrimination and poor treatment in the workplace due to having the condition. This included:
- Being sacked for taking too much sick leave
- Having requests for reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working hours, rejected
- Being passed over for promotion
- Being labelled as “unreliable”
- Having to use annual leave for time off for surgery and recovery
- Being forced to quit work
- Finding it difficult to get a job because of gaps in CV due to surgery and recovery
Key points raised included:
- Lack of understanding of endometriosis from employers despite it being a relative common condition and wider lack of societal understanding about periods and menstrual health
- Many employers not fully understanding how the 2010 Equality Act applies to those with endometriosis who have chronic and debilitating symptoms
- Those with endometriosis not being eligible for statutory sick pay in some circumstances
- 8 year average time to diagnosis leaving those with symptoms of endometriosis needing to ask for sick leave or reasonable adjustments while having nothing to show their employer
- The positive impact of a supportive employer including organisations who have joined the Endometriosis Friendly Employers scheme
- The impact of the pandemic on those with endometriosis in work who are waiting much longer for gynaecology appointments and treatment including surgery
MPs called on the government to take action on a number of fronts including:
- To reform statutory sick pay to ensure it is available for those with endometriosis who need to take sick leave
- For the Department for Work and Pensions to clearly state including in relevant guidance that endometriosis can be a disability and to take steps to make sure employers fully understand how to apply the 2010 Equality Act
- To use the forthcoming Employment Bill to strengthen workers rights to flexible working and reasonable adjustments
- To ensure different government departments including the Dept for Health and Social Care (DHSC), Dept for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to work together to address endometriosis in the workplace
- Promote the Endometriosis Friendly Employers scheme
Thanks to all the MPs who spoke in the debate: Alec Shelbrooke, Hannah Bardell, Alex Jones-Davies, Dr Dan Poulter, Bell Riberio-Addy, Taiwo Owatemi, Jim Shannon, Marion Fellows and Justin Madders. Also thanks to Paul Scully, who responded for the government in his role as Business Minister and to Geraint Davies for chairing of the debate.