23rd September 2016

Is period pain a disability? A YouGov survey on behalf of the BBC found that 52% of women have experienced period pain so severe that it affects their ability to work, yet only 27% have told their boss.

Tahira Patala is an employment law consultant at ELAS. She says: “It is a long standing principle that the effects of any impairment are key when it comes to establishing disability, and employers need to consider this when assessing any absence caused by period pain.  Period pains are not specifically covered as a disability under the Equality Act however in severe cases they could be considered a disability. This would be assessed on an individual basis and is about extreme cases of pain. As such, I cannot see that there would be an influx of claims.  When considering the facts, an employer should look at other conditions which are associated with period pains such as migraines, PMS or endometriosis.”

A doctor has suggested that employers should offer ‘menstrual leave’ but Tahira says this is not necessary.

She says: “The UK does not require employers to implement menstrual leave so there is no need to amend any current polices or procedures that employers have in place.  Your current sickness and absence policies will cover all eventualities. I would advise employers to treat the absence like any other and, as part of their investigations into the absence, to try and ascertain further information which could include obtaining a medical report.”

For more information, or help in managing absenteeism in your workplace, call our team on 0161 785 2000.


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