Should employers offer free period products in the workplace?

'This initiative is a step in the right direction to reach menstrual equity'

Should employers offer free period products in the workplace?

The Canadian government is seeking feedback on its proposal to make menstrual products more accessible to workers in federally regulated workplaces. In Canada, approximately 35% of employees require menstrual products on a regular basis, yet there’s no requirements for employers to provide free products. The government noted that lack of access can lead to physical and psychological health and safety risks for employees. 

In its draft proposal, the government said it aims to reduce these risks by adding menstrual products to the list of basic sanitation items available to employees, in addition to toilet paper and soap.

Read more: 'Menstrual leave': the next workplaces perk for women?

"We'd never ask people to bring their own toilet paper to work. So why do we do that with menstrual products? We're changing that. We're putting menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces and treating workers with the dignity they deserve," said labour minister Seamus O'Regan Jr.

According to the government, the draft regulations will amend the following occupational health and safety regulations:

  • Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • Aviation Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • On Board Trains Occupational Health and Safety Regulations
  • Oil and Gas Occupational Safety and Health Regulations

The scope of the policy will include all workers in federally regulated public and private sectors, including all cisgender women, non-binary individuals, transgender men, and intersex people.

Read more: Future Super introduces menstrual and menopause leave

"Menstrual products are a basic need for people who menstruate. All barriers to accessing them need to be broken down and supports at both the individual and institutional levels need to be improved for women, girls, trans, and non-binary people who menstruate," said women and gender equality and youth minister Marci Ien. "This initiative is a step in the right direction to reach menstrual equity and advance gender equality in the workplace."

Those who wish to share their feedback on the proposed regulations may do so via the government's website up until November 13, 2022.

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