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Asda launches mentoring scheme for mums


To coincide with International Women's Day yesterday, Asda unveiled its Mum2Mum maternity leave mentoring scheme, while the TUC also published guidance for employers on how to support female workers going through the menopause.
Asda's Mum2Mum mentoring initiative is targeted at women going on maternity leave to "help counteract the dips in confidence and motivation mothers go through" when they are out of the workplace environment.
Each mum-to-be will be assigned a mentor from the business, who is also a working mother, in order to provide them with experienced and meaningful support. The aim is to offer two or three face-to-face mentoring sessions in the three months before going on leave, contact via email and phone while they are away and another series of mentoring sessions in the first six to nine months after returning to work.
Asda's objective is to retain key talent by ensuring their re-entry into the workplace is a smooth one and that returnees’ can pick up the reins quickly without too many problems.
The TUC, meanwhile, has issued new guidelines on how to support female employees through the menopause as, with 3.5 million women aged over 50 in the workplace, the union umbrella organisation believes it is becoming an increasingly important occupational health issue.
The challenge is that, although the matter is often not recognised, going through the menopause can materially affect how women undertake their work and how they relate to managers and colleagues.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "There is no excuse for the silence, embarrassment, confusion and inaction around the menopause – something that all women go through. The health of women in later years depends very much on their health when they are going through the menopause, and this report shows employers and unions can work together to do much more to protect them."
The guidance was based on research published by the British Occupational Health Research Foundation in conjunction with the University of Nottingham and also drew on input from union health and safety representatives.
It points out that menopausal women often experience hot flushes, headaches, tiredness, sweating, anxiety attacks and increased stress levels, symptoms that can be made worse by high workplace temperatures, poor ventilation, poor or non-existent rest or toilet facilities or a lack of access to cold drinking water.
Female staff also complained of being criticised for taking menopause-related sick leave, their embarrassment about discussing the issue with employers and being criticised or ridiculed by their managers on the subject.
As a result, the report recommends a range of measures including training line managers to recognise how the menopause can affect work and understand what adjustments may be necessary. 

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