While more employers are implementing menopause policies and offering support, there is currently not the same level of awareness or support for individuals who suffer from menstrual symptoms. A robust menstruation policy helps create a forward-thinking supportive culture and sends a strong message that gender-specific health issues are taken seriously. What are the key things to include in a menstruation (period) policy?
1. Introduce menstruation (period) policy
It is a good idea to begin the policy by defining your culture, encouraging staff to be open about their symptoms and communicating that help and support is available to anyone struggling at work because of their period.
Ideally, the policy should apply to anyone working for the employer, whether that is an employee, worker, contractor, volunteer, intern or apprentice.
2. Set out the symptoms of a period
The policy should set out the most common symptoms experienced in the weeks before or during a period.
The policy should explain how periods can affect people differently and how the symptoms may vary between different cycles.
Menstruation and menopause policies
This should help raise awareness around the impact that a period can have on an individual’s working life.
3. Explain how an individual can request menstrual support
The policy should identify who an individual should go to if they need support. In most cases, this will be the individual’s line manager.
However, the policy should recognise that some individuals might feel uncomfortable discussing their symptoms with a line manager and set out an alternative route for requesting support.
The policy should provide an assurance that any health-related information disclosed by the individual will be treated sensitively and in confidence.
4. Outline support available
From a practical point of view, employers can still make simple adjustments to help support individuals struggling with period-related symptoms at work.
Menstrual leave: international perspective
In Indonesia, an employee who suffers from pain during menstruation is entitled to take paid leave on the first and second day of menstruation. There have been reports that Spain may legislate on menstrual leave. There are no immediate plans for the UK government to legislate on menstrual leave.
The policy should outline the support that is available and recognise that individuals affected by menstrual symptoms are more likely to benefit from adjustments on a temporary rather than permanent basis.
Typical ad hoc adjustments might include the option to work from home, different working hours, a change to duties or more frequent breaks.
Other period-friendly adjustments could include ensuring that a quiet place is available for individuals to take a break and the provision of sanitary products in toilet and shower facilities.
5. Remind staff of sickness absence procedure
The policy should make clear that there is no expectation on individuals to work if they are feeling unwell and unable to work because of their period.
It is a good idea to remind staff that if they are sick and unable to work they should follow the procedure set out in the employer’s short-term sickness absence policy.
6. Highlight additional help and support available
The policy could also set out additional help and support, for example through the employer’s employee assistance programme or occupational health, if it is available.