Menstrual wellness policies are commonplace in Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan and China and have recently been introduced in Spain (Ref – CNN and SMH). Australia looks likely to follow suit, but what is a menstrual wellness policy and why should organisations implement it? I mean, it’s just a period – right!
What is a Menstrual Wellness Policy?
A menstrual wellness policy is a workplace policy that addresses the specific needs and challenges faced by people who menstruate. It is a policy aimed at promoting the physical and emotional well-being of employees during their menstrual cycles and creating a supportive and inclusive work environment.
A menstrual wellness policy may include provisions such as:
- Menstrual Leave: It allows employees to take paid time off for menstrual-related symptoms or discomfort. The policy usually specifies the number of leave days or hours granted per cycle or year.
- Flexible Working Arrangements: It may provide options for flexible working hours or remote work during menstruation to accommodate employees' needs, especially if they experience severe pain or discomfort.
- Access to Menstrual Products: The policy may ensure that menstrual products, such as pads, tampons, or menstrual cups, are readily available and accessible in workplace restrooms free of charge.
- Facilities and Amenities: It includes provisions for clean and hygienic restroom facilities with proper disposal mechanisms for menstrual products. It may also address the availability of private spaces for changing or addressing menstrual needs.
- Education and Awareness: The policy may promote awareness and education about menstruation, debunking myths, and fostering a culture of empathy and understanding among employees.
- Supportive Work Environment: It emphasises creating a workplace culture that encourages open communication about menstrual health and addresses any stigma or discrimination related to menstruation.
The goal is to ensure that employees who menstruate feel supported, comfortable, and able to manage their menstrual health effectively while at work.
Why is Menstrual Health important?
But why should an Australian organisation consider implementing a Menstrual Wellness Policy? We have personal leave in place – doesn’t this cover it? As mentioned above, menstrual wellness policies are about more than just time off. It’s about education and awareness about menstruation and recognising the profound effect it can have on people who period – and their performance at work. Researchers have found that 80% of people reported absenteeism and decreased productivity during their periods, averaging 23 days per year. (Ref – BMJ Open) and 54% of Aussie women find it difficult to complete their day-to-day tasks while on their period. (Ref – YouGov). Considering half the workforce is made up of people who menstruate, the impact to productivity and the bottom line (no pun intended!) is enormous.
Implementing a menstrual wellness policy in a company is important for several reasons:
- Promoting inclusivity and gender equality: A menstrual wellness policy demonstrates commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive work environment for all employees, regardless of gender. It confirms an organisations understanding that menstruation is a natural process impacting a significant portion of the workforce and acknowledges the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals who menstruate.
- Employee well-being and productivity: Menstruation can have physical and emotional effects on individuals, including pain, discomfort, fatigue, and mood changes. By implementing a menstrual wellness policy, companies can support their employees' well-being by providing access to resources, facilities, and accommodations that can help alleviate these challenges. This, in turn, can improve employee morale, satisfaction, and productivity. The supply of menstrual products in the workplace may mean the difference between a person being able to continue with their work or having to take time off.
- Health and safety considerations: Menstrual hygiene is essential for maintaining good health and preventing potential infections or complications. By implementing a menstrual wellness policy, companies can ensure that employees have access to proper sanitation facilities, including clean washrooms, sanitary products, and disposal mechanisms. This demonstrates a commitment to the health and safety of all people within the workplace.
- Attracting and retaining talent: A company that prioritises the well-being and needs of its employees (including those who menstruate) can attract and retain a diverse pool of talent. Potential employees may be more inclined to join an company that values their holistic well-being and creates an inclusive work environment.
Overall, implementing a menstrual wellness policy not only demonstrates a company's commitment to its employees' well-being but also contributes to fostering a more inclusive, supportive, and equitable work environment.
How can Jnine & Co help?
We champion period positivity in the workplace. Jnine consults with organisations across a wide range of industries and assists them to implement customised Menstrual Wellness policies in their workplaces. Our Workplace Period Toolkits are a great starting point for introducing Menstrual Wellness to your workplace. Or, if you’re ready to implement a full policy talk to Janine about how to implement a complete Menstrual Wellness Policy in your organisation - including policy development, communication strategy, provision of menstrual products and ongoing review. Book a call today.