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Menstrual health at work: British institution publishes standard

Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

London — Employers who adopt guidelines on menstrual and menopausal health can strengthen workforce culture, improve retention rates and curb absenteeism, the British Standards Institution says.

BSI – the United Kingdom’s national standards body – published its menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace standard (BS 30416) in June. The guidance is intended to provide examples of good practices and policies.

For instance, minor workplace adjustments such as more comfortable seating, the use of desk fans or being allowed to stretch can improve workers’ quality of life at work and alleviate menstruation and menopause symptoms. Workers with endometriosis – a common condition that can lead to excessive bleeding and debilitating pain, along with infertility issues – may need additional support and/or adjustments. 

According to data from the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women’s rights in the UK, 1 out of 10 women who worked during menopause left a job because of their symptoms. In addition, 80% of women report that their employer hasn’t shared information, trained staff or put in place policies on menopause-related absences.

BSI encourages employers to:

  • Consider workplace culture to determine the level of general awareness of menstruation and menopause, along with whether workers can have open conversations.
  • Check whether relevant workplace policies consider menstruation and menopause.
  • Examine whether managers and human resources team members are suitably trained on or have resources to understand the workplace impacts of menstruation and menopause.
  • Review workplace facilities to ensure restrooms, changing rooms and quiet recovery spaces are easily accessible.
  • Examine workplace designs to enable flexibility for an individual approach to employees who need assistance.

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