Should working women in the UK receive paid period leaves?

The Welsh Government aims to normalise menstrual hygiene in workplaces by 2026. We asked women in Cardiff how they feel about paid period leaves, and what the government could do better.

About 57% employed women who suffer from period pains say that it affected their ability to work, according to a research by YouGov Omnibus on behalf of BBC Radio 5 carried out in 2016.

Heavy bleeding and low mood has led to a loss of nearly nine days of productivity per woman every year, a study published by the British Medical Journal in 2019 stated.

With the Welsh Government’s Period Dignity plan that aims to end the stigma around menstruation by 2026, working women find themselves in a bind as menstrual leaves are still not recognised as official sick leaves.

We spoke to women around Cardiff, asking about whether or not paid period leaves should be mandated in workplaces, and what the government could do to improve period dignity in Wales. Here are the responses we got.

Stephanie Curtis, 30, stay-at-home mom, Newport

“Definitely! Free tampons, free pads, make it something that is open and easy to discuss. Because I have got 2 girls myself and my eldest found it really awkward when it came to talking about it in school. I think they do need to make tampons and pads free. If they are free, they are not making it well-known as to where you can get them.” 

Hannah Priest, 22, journalist, Cardiff

“I think paid leave should be the normal. It was great when they introduced free period products to schools, but I think it should be extended to help period poverty around the country… they just need to make sure that workplaces have structures in place to make sure that women feel safe on their period and feel comfortable to come forward and talk about it instead of being dismissed.”

Damalie, 22, student, Uganda

“No, because it is the situation that ever woman has to go through. If you decide to pay monthly, I do not think it’s possible. It would be good if the government can gives some requirements to people who can’t afford it. Because if all women get their periods, not all can afford those requirements.”

Patricia Williams, 75, retired, Ebbw Vale

“Yes. It can be a difficult time for women when they have their periods. Some women are okay but other women are not okay. There are more efforts now to help women with their periods and I just hope that the government continues along this path. They are bringing back HRT which you can go buy now without a prescription.” 

Min Deng, 24, student, China

“Yes. The company and the government should pay sick fees for working women because whether they are men or women, they all have their rights. The company should pay this fee because the company should protect its employees.”

Becca Jones, 25, barista, Wales

“Yes. There are days when your periods are so heavy that you feel very uncomfortable leaving the house. There is nothing that we can do about that. Paid period leave is an amazing thing that needs to be brought out. I think the government can just enforce it. It’s not a difficult thing to do. I’m sure it’s pretty easy to be able to implement it into jobs.”