Here at Pink Parcel HQ, having your period at work is a total breeze. The toilets are stocked with a free stash of tampons, pads and liners, there are wipes on hand to freshen up, painkillers for cramps are tossed freely over desks and open, frank body chat is plentiful. There’s nothing – from blood flow to vaginal discharge – that’s a taboo topic in the PP office.
But we’re not saying we’re unprofessional either, far from it, we’re period professionals after all. Also, the best bit about our periods-at-work-positivity is that it’s not just the women who are on board with it. Our boss is a guy. He gets it.
And we know we’re super-lucky too, not every employer is quite as accommodating about women’s biology at work. Yep, even in 2017. Last week’s news story of the model who claims she was sacked by Hyundai for getting her period at work, has opened up the conversation of periods in the workplace and how companies can offer more support and empathy to female employees on their period.
So we thought a few best practice pointers wouldn’t go amiss, and while we appreciate there may be a way to go before all businesses adopt a pro-periods approach – we reckon talking about it is a really good start.
Access to tampons and pads
Even with the best will in the world, they’ll be times when you’re at your work, your period takes you by surprise and you’ve got nada in your desk drawer. Ok, some workplace toilets do have dispensers, but how about just making tampons and pads free and accessible in all cubicles, just like loo roll is?
Bins to dispose sanitary products
This one isn’t really optional thank goodness. Workplace legislation means that companies (even those with only one employee) are required to provide bins to dispose of sanitary products and that they are emptied and cleaned, safely and hygienically. If it’s not there, demand it.
The option to take breaks
Imagine the scenario, you’re on a really heavy period and you’re working in an environment where you’re far from a toilet, maybe on your feet and your break is hours away. Cue a potential disaster, right? Nobody should be in the position where they can’t take time-out to change their tampon – if this is happening, talk to your line manager pronto.
Paid period leave
A current hot topic, with the news earlier this year that Italy are debating in parliament a proposal to implement a country wide official period policy – meaning all companies in Italy would be required to offer up to three days of paid leave a month for employees with painful periods. Global sportswear giant Nike already have a menstrual leave code of conduct and Coexist, a community interest company in Bristol, believe that by allowing their female staff to work comfortably and flexibly around their cycle, productivity in the workplace is increased – not the opposite.
Flexible working options
Even if a company doesn’t want to officially introduce a period-policy, there are work-arounds and a flexible environment can make all the difference for women who suffer from painful/heavy periods that potentially impact on their performance at work. Offering a flexi-time structure or work-from-home option for all employees means some buffer time in the day when you just need to sort yourself out without a drama. This means that “sorry I’m late, I’ve got agonising period pain” conversation with your boss or colleagues, just isn’t required. Discuss with your HR department the flexible options available in your company and how you can benefit from them if you're struggling with work at certain times of your cycle.
How comfortable are you having your period at work? Let us know in the comments below…
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