The latest findings from the CIPD’s report Menstruation and support at work, which surveyed more than 2,000 women, found that more than two thirds (69%) of women have a negative experience at work because of their menstruation symptoms. 

The CIPD is calling on organisations to create awareness, tackle the stigma associated with menstruation, and train managers to be confident, comfortable and inclusive when talking to employees about menstrual health. 

“Our latest report on menstruation and support at work underscores the need for a more empathetic and understanding working environment. Menstruation is a natural part of many employees' lives, and it shouldn’t be a barrier to success or wellbeing.” 

Claire McCartney, Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser, CIPD

The most common symptoms reported include abdominal cramps (60%), irritability (52%), fatigue (49%) and bloating (49%) but there are a wide range of symptoms experienced. Of those who experienced symptoms, four-fifths (61%) said they had worked when they didn’t feel well enough to, and one in five (20%) took sick leave. 

The report highlights that, despite 53% of women surveyed being unable to attend work at some point in their career because of menstruation symptoms, nearly half (49%) said they never tell their manager the absence is related to their menstrual cycle. 

Sadly, when asked why they didn’t feel able to say why they were not able to go into work, the report finds that 45% of women felt that the problem would be trivialised and 43% felt embarrassed. 

According to the survey, just one in ten (12%) women say that their organisation provides support for menstruation and menstrual health conditions. The report shows that employees experiencing menstruation symptoms would value a range of support from employers with free period products, paid time off for medical appointments and paid sick leave being the three top-rated opportunities. 

“Employers can greatly improve the working lives of employees who experience menstruation symptoms by creating inclusive, supportive work environments and training managers to have a better understanding of the impact it can have.” 

Claire McCartney, Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser, CIPD

The CIPD has published a practical guide alongside the report, offering helpful support and guidance to employers, as well as an overview of how to care for employees with menstrual health symptoms.  

Outlined in the guide are key principles to promote awareness and good practice around menstruation, including building an open and inclusive culture, raising awareness and tackling stigma, offering helpful support and policies at work, and providing training and support for people managers.  

Explore our related content

Case study
Menstruation and menstrual health: Northern Care Alliance

This group of hospitals and community facilities developed a holistic Well Women Strategy to provide support beyond parents and carers

Menopause at work: A guide for people professionals

How to provide effective support for employees experiencing the menopause

For Members
Supporting employees with long-term health conditions

Practical advice and guiding principles for effective support

For Members
Explore all our views and insights

Championing better work and working lives

the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work. 

Callout Image