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Menopause is the ‘last health taboo’ facing police service

Female officer non idTHE police service must do more to support female officers going through the menopause if they are to retain talented officers and avoid costly employment tribunals, the Police Federation of England and Wales annual conference has heard.

With an ever-ageing workforce, issues affecting female officers need to be given greater attention, said Dee Collins, President of the British Association for Women in Policing.

CC Collins, Temporary Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, said the menopause was the “last unmanaged health taboo” in the police service.

CC Collins said: “Many colleagues may be left feeling isolated and vulnerable at time when they need our support. The average age at which women go through the menopause is 52. I know of one officer who went through it at 27. It can result in a host of health issues – seven in 10 women experience debilitating symptoms.”

Symptoms of the menopause can include fatigue, memory impairment, loss of concentration, increased bone fractures, weight gain and mood changes. Women can also experience stress, depression, anxiety, problems sleeping and poor coping skills. Women going through the menopause may find it harder to gain promotion, the conference heard.

CC Collins added: “We are determined to address this. This is not a ‘nice-to-do’. We have legislative obligations to manage this.”

Women have won employment tribunals against forces where reasonable adjustments have not been made. These can include making arrangements for flexible working, agile working and assisting the women in dealing with the physical symptoms such as hot flushes.

Laura-Jane Fowler, from the Police Federation of England and Wales’ Legal Department, told the conference about a sex discrimination case in 2011 against British Transport Police.

She said: “The claimant had a letter from her GP explaining the effects on concentration and memory. But her manager said he didn’t accept the letter because his wife had been through the menopause and hadn’t experienced any symptoms. So she was dismissed.

“The tribunal found manager’s behaviour to be bizarre. A man wouldn’t have been treated in the same way.”

Date posted: May 25, 2016

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