AFTER the Spanish government approved a bill that grants paid menstrual leave earlier this month, UK charities have called on the government to bring in similar legislation – but what would this mean for employers?
A recent survey by Bloody Good Period looked into how the pandemic has changed people’s experience of periods and found that 73% of respondents have struggled to work in the way they want to because of their period, with 79% attributing this to being in pain.
Beth Bearder, senior associate and solicitor specialising in employment law at Nelsons, said: “Menstrual-related symptoms vary from person to person. While some are able to continue as normal during their monthly cycle, others can experience debilitating side effects such as migraines, cramps or back ache – particularly those with conditions like endometriosis.
“While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach employers can take, there are things they can do to support workers who are struggling to work during their monthly cycle.”
How many countries have implemented paid menstrual leave?
“While Spain may be the first European nation to formally introduce these measures, other non-European countries have already rolled out paid menstrual leave – including Japan, South Korea, Zambia and Indonesia. Closer to home, there have been calls from various groups in the UK to implement similar measures.
Is there a legal requirement in the UK to support menstruating employees?
“Currently, there is no legal requirement to support workers who menstruate – including cisgender women, non-binary people and trans men. However, some UK companies may want to take the initiative to implement their own corporate policy to accommodate paid leave for people who menstruate.”
What can employers do?
“In the absence of any current UK law concerning menstrual leave, it is up to each individual employer as to whether they implement their own policy. However, if they choose not to, it is still important to support menstruating employees from a wellbeing perspective. For example, this could include providing period products in toilets, opening up the conversation about menstruation to challenge stigma, or allowing individuals to work from home during their period.
“Going the extra mile to help improve the wellbeing of employees at work can also be crucial to retaining staff and help when recruiting new workers – particularly during the ‘Great Resignation’. Employees who feel valued and understood will likely be happier and more productive at work.”
For more information about supporting and managing your workforce, please visit: www.nelsonslaw.co.uk/managing-your-workforce/