More than 70% of women have taken time off work because of periods, Fórsa study finds

More than 70% of women have taken time off work because of periods, Fórsa study finds

Delegates at Fórsa's conference in the INEC Killarney from May 18-20. Picture: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

More than 70% of women have taken time off work because of their periods, while four in 10 felt unable to tell their manager the reason for their absence, according to new research.

The survey of 1,800 respondents by Fórsa, the public service union, found that an enormous majority — 96% — were in favour of a menstrual-friendly policy in the workplace. This lead the union to adopt a motion calling on employers to address the stigma of menstrual health at its national conference on Friday morning.

The study found that one in four respondents had been diagnosed with a specific condition, such as endometriosis, resulting in medical symptoms including very heavy bleeding, nausea, and migraines.

Some 65% of those surveyed said that they had not told their supervisors at work of the difficulties they had experienced, while over 70% admitted being comfortable discussing the issue with their colleagues.

The motion was proposed by Fórsa’s Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown branch, with its secretary Róisín Cronin noting on Friday how much easier it is for women in her experience to manage menstrual symptoms in their own home.

Not having to worry about finding an individual clean toilet or a private place to wash a menstrual cup was just a massive relief for so many

“If working from home during the pandemic made such a positive difference, it seemed obvious that the issue was not being properly addressed in the workplace,” Ms Cronin said. 

She added that remote working and flexible work arrangements are “key to a healthier, happier, and more productive working life”.

“It has broader consequences for the way sick leave is consumed by thousands of women across the country,” she said.

Last week the Government of Spain became the first European administration to launch a draft law regarding the legal right to up to three days’ menstrual leave per month.

Only a handful of countries currently grant such leave, including Japan, South Korea, and Zambia.

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