13 May 2019
Almost half of women (45 per cent) from Derbyshire Constabulary who responded to a national survey said their performance at work had been negatively affected by the menopause with 21 per cent saying they felt this had affected their manager’s and colleagues’ views on their competence.
Three quarters (76 per cent) said the symptoms of the menopause were either moderately or extremely problematic.
And 17 per cent said they had considered leaving the job because they had found it difficult to deal with the menopause at work.
The Derbyshire findings were in line with the national findings of the EveryonePause survey carried out by the Police Federation last year.
“This survey, the first of its kind in policing, should really open everyone’s eyes to how the menopause affects police officers and staff. Around a third of women officers are over 45 so this is something that should not be ignored,” says Kirsty Bunn, secretary of Derbyshire Police Federation.
“The survey was aimed at those who have gone, or who are going, through the menopause but also at line managers. We now need all forces to recognise the impact of the menopause and the effects it can have on officers and staff members at work.”
Kirsty has praised the efforts of Derbyshire Constabulary to help women going through the menopause and the work of the Force’s Menopause Action Group which was set up over a year ago and is led by the Gender Agenda.
Derbyshire Police Federation worked with the Gender Agenda to push for the women only Job-Related Fitness Tests which have now been introduced by the Force. One has already been held and three further dates have been scheduled.
The Force, at the Federation’s instigation, has also agreed to provide cooling clothing for women who need workplace adjustments to keep them at work.
The survey was carried out for six weeks from the middle of October 2018. There were 249 responses from Derbyshire Constabulary – 43 per cent from police officers and 57 per cent from staff. Most completed questions about their experiences of the menopause at work while around a quarter answered questions relevant to line managers and supervisors. A smaller number responded to both sets of questions.
The aspects of working that made coping with the symptoms of the menopause moderately or extremely difficult identified by Derbyshire respondents were:
A total of 54 per cent of Derbyshire respondents said they had disclosed to their line manager that they were experiencing menopausal symptoms, above the national figure of 47 per cent.
One in five had taken sickness absence due to the menopause (18 per cent nationally) but 63 per cent (62 per cent nationally) said they had turned in to work despite feeling they should have taken leave due to their symptoms while 39 per cent (35 per cent) said they had taken annual leave or rest days off as a result of the menopause.
Two thirds of managers in Force felt they had a good level of awareness of the menopause, slightly higher than the national figure, with 38 per cent – compared to 34 per cent nationally - saying they would be confident in their ability to support someone they managed through the menopause.
The survey, initiated to help improve working conditions for Federation members, soon caught the attention of others in policing when UNISON, the Police Superintendents’ Association, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing got on board to help promote it to their members and staff.