76% of police officers and staff who have gone through or are going through the menopause said they found symptoms of the menopause either moderately or extremely problematic at work, a new survey reveals.

Only 11% of managers said that they had been given training on how to support someone going through the menopause.

Nearly half of respondents (44%) who found their symptoms extremely problematic have considered quitting the police service as a result.

A number of respondents to the Police Federation of England and Wales survey said they would be too embarrassed to discuss symptoms with their line manager and believe they would be treated differently in a negative way if they did disclose, as it could be seen as a sign of weakness.

Often respondents highlighted that their line manager was male and sometimes younger than them, which they also saw as an additional barrier to disclosure.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said it is hoped the findings of the survey – completed by more than 6,000 officers – will be used to better represent and support anyone within the police workforce going through the menopause, as well as to inform future policy and guidance on the topic.

Other key statistics found:

  • A majority of respondents said that low mood and lower confidence as a result of the menopause had been either moderately or extremely problematic for them at work
  • 44% of respondents who had taken sickness absence due to the menopause had not told their manager the real reason for their absence; only 9% who had told their manager the real reason said that their absence had been recorded accurately
  • 62% of respondents had attended work despite feeling that they should have taken sick leave because they were experiencing symptoms of the menopause, and 35% of respondents had taken annual leave or rest days to take time off because of their symptoms
  • 86% of managers who responded to the survey said that they would be at least somewhat confident to support someone they line-managed who was going through the menopause

The survey was launched on the 18 October 2018 and was open for six weeks. Overall, 6,315 useable responses were received, of which 59% of respondents were police officers and 40% were police staff (1% were in another role within the police service).

Revealing the findings at this week’s Menopause Action Group (MAG) Conference, held in Wakefield on 11 April, Hayley Aley, a women’s lead for PFEW said: “Up until now there has only been anecdotal evidence on just how much the menopause affects officers and staff in the police service.

“PFEW’s survey was not only aimed at those who have gone, or are going through the menopause, it was also aimed at line managers to give us a better understanding of what kind of support is out there.

“Sadly, the findings are not surprising – from a support perspective, only 11% managers have received training, or are aware of policy or guidance on an issue that affects so much of their workforce.

“Officers and staff do not feel they can be open about what they are going through and would rather struggle to come into work or take leave instead of report sick. The survey results show that there is less than adequate reporting facilities in forces.

“We need every force to recognise the impact that the menopause can have on health and just how unwell it can make you feel – every force should add menopause as an option in their sickness absence reporting fields.

“I’d like to say that our findings come as a surprise – they don’t but we now have an evidence-base to push for positive change.”

In England and Wales, around a third of female police officers are aged 45 or over, therefore the menopause presents an important occupational health issue that has the potential to affect thousands of people within the police service.

Dee Collins, Chair of the Police Service’s Menopause Action Group, says that the group has been doing plenty of work alongside the Federation and the College of Policing in order to raise awareness and counter against the stigma surrounding women affected by the menopause.

Dee hopes that the survey’s results will now be able to assist forces in better supporting their female officers and staff.

She said:

“I’m hoping that the work that the survey is showing us can take us forward and make sure that all forces proactively participate in trying to support women in the workplace around this particular matter.

“Around about one in ten people actually have some training, and that simply just doesn’t feel right or very supportive.”

The survey will also help to direct what training and support forces can give to officers affected by menopause symptoms.

In a direct appeal, Dee said:

“Please try and be understanding, please think about the women in the workplace who are experiencing menopause symptoms and what support and reasonable adjustments you can make to make sure their working environment is a good as it can be.”