Finally – UK Workplaces Are Getting New Standards Around Periods

About time, if you ask us.
One woman, black woman having a headache while working on laptop in her home office.
South_agency via Getty Images
One woman, black woman having a headache while working on laptop in her home office.

If you’ve ever gotten your period at work – especially if you have a complication, like endometriosis or PCOS – you’ll know how tough it can be to soldier through the day.

In fact, a poll from WaterAid found that 85% of UK working women feel “stress” or “anxiety” managing their period at work.

While countries like Spain have introduced period leave policies, the UK still seems a little behind on menstrual care. But thankfully, some steps are being made in the right direction.

Last year, Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free period products. And now, the British Standards Institute (BSI) is set to publish a new guide “to raise awareness and improve knowledge about menstrual and menopausal health and well-being for all employees.”

Sky News add that “research from the Fawcett Society suggested about 10% of those experiencing menopause have left the workplace due to symptoms such as hot flushes, dizziness, insomnia, and muscle and joint stiffness.”

About time we set some standards, right?

So what’ll be in the training?

A BSI post about the BS 30416 standard states that “only a minority of UK workplaces have implemented specific policies that address menstrual and menopausal health and wellbeing.”

So, to help make periods less “stigmatised, overlooked, and misunderstood”, they suggest “using non-stigmatising language such as ‘menstrual products’ instead of ‘feminine hygiene products’, providing suitable facilities in which employees can access menstrual products, creating a supportive culture, and appointing workplace menstruation and menopause advocates.“

They add that it’s important to “adopt an intersectional approach.”

“For instance, safe spaces and accurate information about peri/menopause may be especially important for employees from communities in which menopause remains a taboo subject”, they say.

The BSI also mention that the standards will tackle common misconceptions (for example, they say “peri/menopause does not always begin after the age of 45”).

And the standards are designed to meet the needs of women in a wide range of roles – “These include mobile roles (e.g. police officers), static roles (e.g. cashiers), highly physical roles (e.g. construction workers), and senior executives,” they say.

“Across different sectors and types of workplaces, it’s key to tailor their practices and support to best suit their employees’ roles and circumstances. For instance, adjustments can be made to uniforms, PPE, working patterns, and artificial lighting.”

Sounds pretty great, right?

Yes! So when are these standards coming out?

You’ll be able to download the standards for free on the 5th of June, when the guide will be officially launched at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

You can pre-register your interest and receive an update when the standards are ready to download.