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2023 National Women's Conference
5 October 2022

Women’s reproductive health is a workplace issue. Women are roughly half of the UK workforce and 65% of public sector employees. As a union, we need to ensure that working women have all the information they need to be healthy and safe at work.

For some women, reproductive health issues can cause particular difficulties at work and may even lead to discriminatory action by employers, yet it’s not something we usually talk about.

Employers can be ignorant of or unsympathetic about conditions that affect women. Workplace sickness absence policies often use inflexible trigger levels that don’t take account of these issues, setting off formal procedures that could ultimately lead to an unfair dismissal.

Women should have access to menstrual-friendly policies in their workplace. Access to flexible work arrangements including paid time off, improved training, action to address deep-seated stigma, practical improvements in toilet facilities, and temperature control for those who experience hot flushes or other menstrual and menopausal symptoms.

Better access to measures to alleviate issues with menstruation and menopause is cited as the main reasons that women avoid commuting when experiencing cramps, nausea and hot flushes.

In May 2022, Spain became the first European country to introduce legislation to allow workers who suffer from sever period pain to take 3 days of optional medical leave per month, with two additional days permitted in exceptional cases.

Conference therefore calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with the NEC and with relevant organisations to do more to ensure that employers address issues around menstrual health, to campaign for the introduction of legislation to allow menstrual leave to those who need it and that flexible working arrangements should form part of period and menopause-friendly policies.