Stress | Almost quarter of women have faked illness to take time off due to PMS

Almost quarter of women have faked illness to take time off due to PMS

While much has been done to tackle the taboo of PMS and periods in the workplace, women have continued to share that there is a lack of support when it comes to discussing it.

For example, previous research by Bloody Good Period found that 27% of 3,000 women surveyed reported never feeling supported by their employers. Meanwhile, a quarter believed that taking time off work for menstrual health issues had negatively affected their career progression.

Now, new data from period care manufacturer Yoppie, has highlighted that as many as 23% of women have lied to take time off due to PMS symptoms.

As part of its survey of 2,403 UK women, 26% stated that they lie out of fear their period pains or PMS symptoms will not be considered a legitimate illness and therefore not a good enough reason to miss work.

In addition, 18% claimed that they feel self-conscious due to the subject of PMS, for example for taking time off due to a heavy flow or leaking.

For 13%, being uncomfortable discussing their feminine issues with colleagues prompts them to lie, while judgment from male colleagues closely followed at 12%.

For a further 12% of women, they felt more comfortable lying about their reasons to take a sick day because they feel inadequate to other female colleagues who appear to not have to take days off due to menstruation.

Commenting on the findings, Daniella Peri, Founder of Yoppie, stated that stress can exasperate this use further.

“Although periods are not the taboo topic that they used to be, it is clear that many women still don’t feel they can be open and honest about the severity of their PMS symptoms in the workplace,” she said.

“PMS is a very personal subject but this doesn’t mean we should live in fear of being judged for taking time off. In fact, stress can be an influential factor in exacerbating PMS symptoms and so having to worry about covering it up could inadvertently make it worse.”

What can HR do?

With seven per cent of respondents stating that the reason for lying about their time off is due to poor facilities in the workplace, this suggests that HR teams and employers could look to make reasonable adjustments to support their staff.

For example, making period products readily available in bathrooms, as well as putting in place sanitary bins can help to ease any concerns felt by female workers.

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In addition, championing an open and supportive culture will help to encourage women to speak up freely when they feel they need time off due to PMS.

Lastly, demonstrating this from the top can help to alleviate any pressure. For example, if a senior female leader is advocating employees to use their sick leave for PMS symptoms, it may encourage women to feel confident in doing so without judgement.

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