CIPD | Menstruation and support at work
Our report examines the results of our survey of over 2,000 women, aged 18-60, who currently or have previously menstruated whilst in employment. The aim of this research is to understand employees’ experiences of menstruation and what support can be most helpful at work.
Our findings show that almost four in five have experienced menstruation symptoms, more than two-thirds of employees have experienced a negative impact at work due to menstruation symptoms, and 15% have a menstrual health condition like endometriosis. And yet, only 12% of organisations provide support for menstruation and menstrual health.
While the support on offer broadly corresponds with what employees would find most helpful (such as free period products, paid sick leave and paid time off for medical appointments) more can be done (for example, less than one in 10 have had access to support considered most valued like planned flexible working).
We need more work to build awareness and supportive cultures as around half of employees (49%) said they never tell their manager that any absence they need to take is related to their menstrual cycle. When asked why they felt unable to tell their manager the real reason they were unable to go into work, employees said it was because they felt the problem would be trivialised, followed closely by feeling embarrassed and that they prefer to keep the matter private.
Based on our findings this report shares key principles employers can use to build a supportive workplace culture.
While these findings are based on UK data, the broader trends and implications should be of interest wherever you are based.
Please note, while we predominantly talk about women in relation to menstruation and menstrual health, we recognise that it can impact some transgender and non-binary people who will require support and flexibility relevant to their needs.