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Maternity support guide encourages standardisation among forces

The NPCC guidance was sent out to Chiefs at the end of September.

The NPCC has sent out guidance for Chiefs around supporting staff with maternity and related areas.

The document covers areas including IVF, miscarriage and adoption through to advice on things line managers can say following a loss. It details processes, possible symptoms as well as potential mitigations that can be put in place.

Surveys have revealed a link between line manager inflexibility, lack of knowledge and understanding and female officers choosing to exit policing.

“With the greatest loss of women from policing after the birth of their second child, maintaining experienced female officers and staff within forces is a challenge which is indivisible from sickness, flexible working and deployment/critical staff policies and procedures,” the document says.

It continues to make a number of recommendations including formalising processes to keep in touch with staff who are away – such as updates on new roles and promotions as well as introducing buddy systems for those returning to work.

Forces have now introduced ‘Contact Contracts’ (or equivalent) to ensure that the individual has a say in the level of contact they receive from their manager/force while away.

The guidance recommends the line manager organises a meeting at least four weeks prior to the start of their leave to set out a plan of contact.

Statutory requirements establish that employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity through what are called ‘Keeping in touch days’. SPLIT days are for shared parental leave and employees can use up to 20.

Currently, there is no set standard for the amount of leave given for IVF. Some forces give 40 hours per year, others five days per cycle for up to three cycles per year and others give an unlimited but reasonable paid sick leave.

The guidance sets out that there is no ‘one size fits all’ and may also depend on the role that the individual is in.

It adds that most forces do not consider pre-embryo transfer sickness as pregnancy related – something which may have an effect on applications for lateral and upward progression.

“Line managers should talk through time off required after medical treatment, particularly with reference to the more invasive treatment,” it explains.

“However, if an individual is ill owing to the treatment and not fit to work, either through physical or psychological side-effects, then forces must treat this as sickness absence and deal with an individual’s entitlement to sick pay in accordance with the normal rules. Sickness should not be treated as special leave.”

Forces are asked to consider allowing temporary changes to working conditions for those undergoing fertility treatment, rather than a permanent change effectuated through a flexible working request.

“Understanding the impact of perinatal mental health on our staff is essential. The past 11 years have seen a year-on-year increase in the recruitment of female police officers resulting in 33.1% of officers in England, Wales and Scotland now being female with 52% of them being under 40.

“It is therefore imperative that forces act now to get the correct support put in place to aid with the wellbeing, productivity, and retention of the workforce (of all genders) going through perinatal mental health related issues.”

Police Oracle understands that a National Police Breastfeeding Network has also just been established by West Mercia PS Kathryn Scrimshaw and North Yorkshire DS Keri Alldritt. Its aim will be to support mothers returning to work, support their partners and provide advice to supervisors.

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