Menstruation has long been a ‘taboo’ topic, especially when it comes to the workplace. Luckily, some things are starting to change and periods are becoming less and less taboo. However, when it comes to the workplace, many employers still do not address menstruation.
Studies have shown that menstruation can affect productivity. A 2019 study by BMJ found that 80% of women reported being less productive at work during their period. In addition, a recent study conducted by Flo found that 45.2% of participants reported missing work over the course of a year as a result of period related symptoms with an average of 5.8 days missed per year.
In addition to the physical pain, people often feel emotionally isolated on their periods. When periods are a taboo topic in a workplace, people feel like they cannot talk to their colleagues about what they are going through, which makes the problem even worse. Research from DPG showed that 60% of people felt uncomfortable speaking with their colleagues or manager about their period.
Although it is clear that menstruation is affecting productivity in the workplace, little is being done by employers to remedy this issue. The same study by Flo found that 94.6% of participants reported that they were not provided with any specific benefit for issues related to menstruation with 75.6% saying they would want such benefits.
So, what is to be done? There has been talk of creating a ‘menstrual leave’ that would be like sick days but specifically for menstruation. This has been a hotly debated solution since it could also lead to further workforce discrimination towards people who menstruate.
However, there are other steps companies can take. Employers can create an environment where it is acceptable to talk about periods. Holding workshops or information sessions that educate their workforce about periods can be helpful.
Employers can also offer things to their employees who are menstruating such as having high quality pads and tampons available in the restrooms, providing solutions for relief from menstrual cramps (such as heating pads) and offering more flexible options for working on their period (such as working from home or different hours).
What do you think? How could employers be more inclusive and thoughtful of people who menstruate? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re an employer that would like to offer more solutions for your employees that menstruate, or you’re an employee that would like your employer to consider these options, talk to us about our Menstrual Cycle Benefit Program at firstname.lastname@example.org!