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Improve menopause support, forces urged by NPCC

Forces are being urged by the national lead to step up support for officers and staff going through menopause.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council leader of the Menopause Action Group has written to forces calling for them to sign the National Menopause Pledge.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward wants every force to back the initiative managed by Wellbeing of Women that commits employers to making the workplace supportive and understanding for employees. 

Support such as flexible working, better recording of sickness and educating male line managers on how to discuss the menopause are part of the response that chiefs should be encouraging.

It’s being prioritised in order to retain experienced officers and modernise employment practice.

A report by the British Association of Women in Policing found nearly 50% said that their performance at work was affected by the menopause, citing irritability and extreme tiredness. It was also found that 52% of the women surveyed felt under pressure to remain at work whilst experiencing these uncomfortable symptoms.

The association also warned many have considered leaving the Service because of the menopause.

This is despite the Menopause Action Group (MAG) – created in 2013 – which is responsible for setting and driving the local, regional and national direction and strategy for managing issues in relation to the menopause within the Police Service.

Guidance was published last year by the College of Policing but line managers have been slow to adopt it.

CC Winward also backed a report by MPs which this week called for the government to introduce specific leave for women and other workplace support.

The Women and Equalities Committee said: "We want to see the government producing model menopause policies, and trialling specific menopause leave so that women are not forced out of work by insensitive and rigid sickness policies.”

Chief Constable Lisa Winward, said: “I am delighted that there will be more support for women who are experiencing the symptoms, and I hope this will help improve their quality of life and working arrangements.

“We will take the findings of this report to help to shape the next steps for policing, and to support all of our female colleagues within the policing family so that they can still thrive at work whilst experiencing the menopause.”

She added: “The Menopause Action Group (MAG) have supported many women in policing through our national guidance, which includes advice for managers and supervisors, alongside more practical sessions such as menopause cafes and workshops in the workplace.”

The response from managers is critical, according to the College of Policing.

It said: “Line managers should ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to support individuals. Doing the right thing should be at the heart of decision making. This is not just a moral and ethical responsibility, but also a legal one, since line managers have a duty of care in relation to the health, safety and wellbeing of their staff.”

Advice includes:

MPs on the Women and Equalities committee said that at a time when there is a shortage of skilled employees, not acknowledging a crucial health issue was a mistake.

They said: “Women of menopausal age are the fastest growing group in the workforce and are staying in work for longer than ever before. Yet these experienced and skilled role models often receive little support with menopause symptoms. As a result, some cut back their hours
or responsibilities. Others leave work altogether.”

The MPs added: “51% of the population will experience menopause. It is a normal, natural, and inevitable part of ageing. Yet for too long, too many people experiencing menopause have struggled with societal stigma, inadequate diagnosis and treatment, workplace detriment and discrimination. This is not normal, nor should we see it as inevitable.”

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