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Force alters working conditions to suit menopausal officers

Shake-up includes the introduction of safe spaces to 'cry or talk with a colleague.'
Published - 02/02/2018 By - Sophie Garrod - Police Oracle

A force has made various adjustments to accommodate female officers going through the menopause.

Nottinghamshire Police announced it will adopt new policies, including “risk-assessments” for every job and being allowed to come into work late.

Women should also have “private areas” “to rest temporarily, cry or talk with a colleague.”

Female officers and civilian staff who are going through the change will also be given desks near windows and doors to allow them to cool down.

Frontline officers may also be permitted to remove body armour if it proves uncomfortable.

The guide states: “Staff going through the menopause may request to be positioned near a door or window or maybe provided with a desk fan where possible.

“Positioning within the office or in an area where they can get a breeze should be considered.

“Permission to not to wear body armour where possible may be considered.

“Women going through menopause will need to be able to control their temperature by removing unnecessary layers of clothing. This will need to be carefully considered when officers are responding to emergencies etc.”

The initiative was introduced after former Chief Constable Sue Fish, who retired last year, discovered women were leaving the force after suffering menopausal symptoms.

She said: “It was just a waste of talent. Bringing in a policy was absolutely the right thing to do.”

However, the general consensus of the new guidelines is negative, with many deeming them to be “patronising” and “creating more inequality.”

Dee Collins, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and British Association of Women in Policing chairman, previously stated 72 per cent of women going through menopause felt unsupported at work, seven out of ten experienced debilitating symptoms and 50 per cent hadn’t confided in their line manager.

Sufferers face increased risks of disciplinary and absence procedures, and are often distressed because their coping mechanisms can be affected so can be susceptible to issues like depression. 

CC Collins told Police Oracle: “Menopause is an experience that impacts upon very many women during a particular time in life.

“Where the symptoms affect women in the workplace it is important for Forces to make reasonable adjustments to make women feel valued and able to undertake their roles. 

“Creating a safe space can be one of those adjustments and could be used to help people with a variety of health and wellness matters.”

The Police Federation of England and Wales is now calling for more consistency across forces in the way they support menopausal officers. 

Hayley Aley, PFEW spokesman on equality, said: “It is a priority for the Police Federation to champion better support being offered to our members, and the policing family as a whole if faced with challenges the menopause can bring.

“Currently Nottinghamshire is one of the leading forces, with DC Keeley Mansel working tirelessly on some great work in this area. There are also others, such as West Midlands Police, who are championing good practice and support for women."

“We are working with the College of Policing, National menopause lead, Chief Constable Dee Collins along with other key stakeholders to not only support  federated officers but to educate the wider policing family regarding this important issue.”

Meanwhile, some forces are beginning to address the effects of age-related hormone changes in men, referred to as the "andropause", which affects 2 million men in the UK.

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