FSU’s work on menstruation support
Historically, menstruation and its effects have been largely ignored in the workplace despite it affecting almost 50% of the workforce.
Progress has been made internationally in supporting the needs of menstruating workers, but insufficient attention has been given to the importance of menstrual health to date in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
There are a number of specific medical conditions associated with periods that are debilitating to those who suffer from them monthly. Research shows that taboos around menstrual issues are preventing those suffering from raising health problems associated with their periods with their line managers.
There are obvious reasons why menstrual health in the workplace has not been seen as an important agenda item.
Firstly, there is a stigma and silence around menstruation in general. This stigma creates a negative impact on those who want to speak about their issues in the workplace but instead this results in their problems not being voiced, or prioritised.
Secondly, there is a lack of research evidence on the impact of menstrual health in the workplace.
The FSU is working to change that.
In March 2023, we launched a sector-wide survey asking our members about their personal experiences dealing with periods in the workplace. We got over 1000 responses back and over 2000 personal comments.
The results are staggering and highlight the need for policies addressing menstrual health in the workplace.
91% of respondents believe that periods impact their working lives, and 96% told us they would welcome a menstrual health support policy in their workplace.
About half of respondents were uncomfortable discussing menstrual health issues at work, with 69% attributing this discomfort to the gender of their manager.
1 in 5 told us that periods are treated as a joke in the workplace.
The FSU is using our survey results to advocate for menstrual health supports in the workplace. We used our members’ feedback to draft a best practice policy guide for employers, and we have already successfully secured some of the recommendation accommodations to mitigate these issues in many of our unionised employments, like free sanitary products onsite.
We have proactively shared our best practice policy with the ICTU Women’s Committee Affiliates and have started negotiations on further policy implementation in the major banks in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
If you want to be part of our work, join the FSU’s Women’s Network or email email@example.com to get involved.