10 September 2019
New national guidance to help forces better support women officers and staff experiencing the menopause is a major step forward, says the secretary of Derbyshire Police Federation.
And Kirsty Bunn says the Federation will work with the Force, its Menopause Action Group and the Gender Agenda to ensure women get the support they need but also to raise awareness of how the menopause can affect them at work.
“This new guidance represents a breakthrough moment,” says Kirsty, “Currently, a third of female police officers nationwide are aged 45 or over so clearly this guidance is of interest to them but actually everyone in policing should take the time to read the document.
“I hope the guidance provides a catalyst for change and that forces across England and Wales adopt formal policies so that women feel supported during this time of their lives and can continue to serve their communities.”
Last year, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) carried out the first nationwide survey on the menopause among members. In Derbyshire, the survey – which was called EveryonePause - revealed:
Kirsty believes Derbyshire has made great strides in making adjustments to help women going through the menopause, citing the launch of the women-only fitness testing sessions and cooling clothing as just two success stories.
“Some of the issues raised in the survey included the temperature of the working environment, the inability to control ventilation, recalling detailed information, workload and shift work and it’s obvious some of these are easier to tackle than others,” says Kirsty.
“But I would like to think that as a Force we are doing all we can to try to make adjustments where we can.”
The new guidance includes information for women experiencing the menopause, line managers and occupational health teams. It also encourages forces to establish formal policies for managing menopause transition and provides a draft risk assessment form and checklist.
A working group of strategic stakeholders in policing, spearheaded by Hayley Aley, one of the Federation’s national women’s leads, had commissioned the menopause survey which then provided evidence of the need for the national guidance.
“Everyone in the policing family got behind PFEW’s survey, which proved that forces need to do more to break down the barriers that currently exist,” Hayley explained, “It was iconic for us to aim a survey not just at our membership but to the whole police family and for this to give the credible evidence needed to give guidance to our force leaders.
“This guidance will make a difference to so many and I sincerely hope this work paves the way for colleagues in the other emergency services.”
Chief Constable Carl Foulkes, the national lead for gender at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “The demographic of the police workforce across the UK is changing with an increasing number of female colleagues and an ageing workforce in key front-line roles as well as other roles in our organisations. There are clear health and safety implications for women, their colleagues and the general public, if we do not support, understand and deal with menopause issues properly.
“As such, this guidance which addresses strategic, line management and individual learning around menopause transition is important to minimise the potential impact on operational and non-operational resilience as well as valuing and understanding what colleagues are going through.”
The National Menopause Guidance aims to help support and advise individuals, line managers, senior leaders and occupational health advisers.