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Free tampons in the office: Why should employers provide free period care?

Does your office provide free period care? Whilst free fruit, teabags, and other employee perks are great, we want to encourage more employers to provide free period care. Here’s why we think this is so important.

At the start of 2019, we surveyed our Instagram community to reveal that 83% of our followers have been caught short by their period at work. I can think of a handful of times when it’s happened to me and I’m sure you are nodding in agreement. The issue here is that getting caught short by your period at work usually leads to one of the following outcomes:

– You raid your handbag and desk drawer in hope of finding a spare tampon or pad
– You ask around your workplace to see if a colleague can help you out
– If there’s a vending machine in the toilet you scramble about looking for spare change
– You make a dash to the nearest shop, run around the aisles, get a box and then leg it to the nearest toilet

All of these situations are stressful and uncomfortable. Plus, factoring in a round of painful menstrual cramps and a heavy flow, it can sometimes be enough to force you to head home. Also, what happens when you’re caught short in a meeting? Or when you’re up against a deadline? These only add to the stress that can easily be avoided. It’s time for employers to see periods as a crucial part of employee wellbeing and to factor this into the working environment.

What can be done about this?

Period care should be freely available in the workplace so employees can access these products whenever they are needed. A provision of tampons and pads is important to employee wellbeing, but the conversation goes further. It can be argued that by leaving periods out of conversations in the workplace and pretending this doesn’t exist, we’re feeding a negative stigma. No wonder a recent survey by DPG discovered that 47% of menstruators say there is a stigma around periods in the workplace.

In DPG’s 2019 survey they also revealed the knock-on effects of period stigma at work. This included shock statistics that over one-quarter of menstruators do not have period care disposal bins at work and 72% have no way of getting period care products at work.

There’s a broader conversation to be had

It goes without saying that we need to be having more conversations about menstruation in the workplace, but it doesn’t end there. There’s a broader conversation to be had on reproductive health which is essential to employee wellbeing.

As Business Psychologist and Founder of See Her Thrive, Clare Knox, told us “With women now representing just under half of the labour force in the UK, reproductive health is an issue which needs urgent attention in the workplace. In some cases, women leave their job because they feel unsupported at work. There are also cases where women have been dismissed because of absence owing to a menstrual or reproductive health problem.

Research shows that stigma around reproductive and menstrual health at work can prevent women from disclosing and accessing the information they need to manage their symptoms. This means that lots of women are suffering in silence.” For equitable working environments, we need to see change.

Free tampons in your office

Taking the step to provide free tampons and pads in your office is an encouraging start. As we (At TOTM) say, it’s a great step to becoming a period powerful workplace. It’s starting a conversation that can then lead to wider support in your organisation.

If you work for a company and are keen to see this in action, try putting this on your company agenda. Bring it up in internal meetings or suggest ideas on ways to get this off the ground (we have something to offer, find out more here).
Let us know in the comments below if your workplace already provides free period care. You can also chat to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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