Intimina UK has become the first known company in the UK to introduce HR policies based on employee menstrual cycles, including flexible working and an allowance for sanitary products.
The firm said its ‘Menstrual Care Days’ take into account that employees may have varying levels of productivity caused by fluctuating hormones.
Employees who have periods will be able to arrange meetings based on their menstrual cycle, start work an hour later to account for increased tiredness around their period and have access to an allowance for eco-friendly care products.
To coincide with the announcement, Intimina UK commissioned research to assess the stigma around periods at work.
It found that 63% of women feel there is a stigma attached to discussing periods in the workplace, with over half (57%) saying they feel embarrassed to mention it at work.
The survey also found that many women feel they can’t be honest with their employer about needing to take time off work because of their period. Almost half of all women (44%) surveyed felt unable to say they couldn’t come to work as a result of period-related problems, with only one fifth (20%) saying they were honest about the issue with their employer.
The research also found widespread agreement that organisations should implement HR policies to make it easier for women to work while on their periods, with 69% of women saying they thought companies should take this step.
Two-thirds (67%) of women also said they would be more inclined to apply and accept a job if the company had a menstruation policy in place.
When asked what workplace initiatives would make it easier for them to be at work during their periods, almost half (46%) called for free tampons or sanitary pads, and 39% would like free painkillers.
The research also found that there is a lack of awareness about some of the skills that can be affected by periods. These can include creativity (93%), communication skills (91%) and one’s ability to empathise (91%).
Manuela Donetto, HR manager at Intimina UK, said she hopes the organisation's move will empower women to work in a way that suits them.
“We believe it’s important that every woman feels empowered not just on their period but throughout their whole menstrual cycle, which is why we have introduced this new policy to help ensure that our teams can take advantage of the many positive side effects that our periods bring,” she said.
“For too long premenstrual symptoms are looked upon negatively by women and we want to help encourage them to embrace and take charge of the way their bodies work by offering a flexi-working policy. In turn, we hope that this will help increase productivity, happiness and satisfaction in the workplace.”