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Policy change demand after damning menopause survey results

PFEW study shows service response to impact of health issue is ?on the sick list?
Published - 15/04/2019 By - Hermione Wright

Almost half of officers experiencing the menopause have considered quitting their job amid urgent calls to overhaul how forces deal with the health issue, a first-of-its-kind study has revealed.

Widespread difficulties faced by female officers have been uncovered by the Police Federation study on a subject often “veiled in secrecy or embarrassment”.

Many policing personnel feeling unable to voice that they are unwell, especially if their manager is male and younger than they are.

“Extremely problematic” symptoms were cited as reasons why 44 per cent of officers considered leaving the service while 62 per cent admitted attending work at times when they felt they should have taken sick leave because of symptoms linked to the menopause, the PFEW poll showed.

Less than one in 10 officers who were honest with their manager about the reason for their absence said it had been recorded accurately.   

Many even admitted they felt as if they could not be open up about their challenges because they believed it would be treated as a sign of weakness.

However, the newly-released survey also aimed at gathering views from managers to see how well they believe the matter is currently being handled.

Despite the clear underlying concerns, some 86 per cent of managers claimed they would be “at least somewhat confident” in supporting someone they line-managed who was going through the menopause.

Only 11 per cent, however, said they had been given official training on how to support someone going through it.

With around a third of female police officers in the UK aged 45 or over, the health issue may be infrequently discussed but it has the potential to affect thousands of people within the police service.

Hayley Aley, a women’s lead for the PFEW, said: “Officers and staff do not feel they can be open about what they are going through and would rather struggle to come into work or take leave instead of report sick. 

“The survey results show that there is less than adequate reporting facilities in forces.

“We need every force to recognise the impact that the menopause can have on health and just how unwell it can make you feel – every force should add menopause as an option in their sickness absence reporting fields.

“I’d like to say that our findings come as a surprise – they don’t but we now have an evidence-base to push for positive change.”

The news comes over a year after Nottinghamshire Police announced it will adopt new policies to accommodate officers going through the menopause, including introducing “private areas” for women “to rest temporarily, cry or talk with a colleague”.

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