Over a quarter (26%) of females fear their period pains or PMS symptoms will not be considered a legitimate illness and therefore not a good enough reason to miss work, according a survey from period care company Yoppie.
Others said they feel self-conscious due to the subject itself, taking time off due to reasons like a heavy flow or leaking (18%).
Karen Watkins, founder at management consultancy Rowan Consulting, said the discomfort around discussing periods is unacceptable.
She told HR magazine: “If we’re still struggling to have basic conversations about things that have happened since time immemorial, we have to ask what management teams have been doing.
"This is a basic conversation that boils down to either lack of confidence in the employee and/or trust in the manager and we shouldn't need HR departments to get involved in writing policies on how to deal with this but instead have healthy conversations.”
The lack of resources and conversation around menopause adds to these concerns, said Watkins.
"Support for women going through menopause is woefully inadequate and requires work and a common-sense approach in both knowledge and understanding," she said.
Being uncomfortable discussing their feminine issues with colleagues has prompted 13% of women to lie about their period at work, the survey found.
Judgement from male colleagues (12%) followed closely behind.
Helen Llewellyn, director at health and wellbeing company Infinity Wellbeing, said PMS symptoms should not make women feel the need to lie about taking time off work.
She told HR magazine: “There are many ways to manage PMS symptoms that work really well, my suggestion is to encourage women to take action to improve how they feel rather than have to feel awful for days at a time each month.
"Of course, if women are still feeling ill due to PMS and need time off, they should be able to take time off.”
Llewellyn added: "I don’t understand the need for a big discussion around periods in the workplace.
“If an employee asks for time off due to health reasons, as an employer you only need to ask how long they might be off for and what support, if any, you can give to make them feel included and help them get back to full health. The same should go for PMS," she said.
Yoppie surveyed 2,403 UK women aged between 19 and 54 on 6 May 2021.
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