Imagine using the washroom at work. Sitting on the toilet, you suddenly realize you’ve forgotten your roll of toilet paper at your desk! You wait in your stall, hoping it won’t be too long before someone else comes along with a square to spare.
For those who experience menstruation, this scenario might hit close to home—except, this time, it's not just a toilet paper mishap catching you off guard. Menstrual cycles can be anything but predictable; even those who have regular cycles can find themselves facing unexpected periods. Surprisingly, a staggering 86% of individuals have reported experiencing their period unexpectedly in public, and as a result, 34% have had to leave work or school abruptly. This leads to absenteeism, creating a ripple effect that can limit opportunities and hinder personal growth.
But there's good news—Canada is taking a step towards transforming this narrative with a new addition to its labour code, slated to take effect on December 15, 2023. This forward-thinking regulation aims to address this very issue. If you're curious about how this new rule might impact your organization, we've simplified the details for you. Discover the straightforward steps your workplace needs to take in order to ensure compliance and gain insights into the potential consequences of not adhering to these new standards.
Even if your workplace isn't directly affected by Canada's new menstrual care labour code, providing period care is just good for business! Let’s get into it.
Who Does Canada’s Menstrual Products Labour Code Apply To?
Canada’s Labour Code applies to all federally regulated workplaces, which includes industries like airlines and airports, banks, federal Crown corporations, postal and courier services, radio and television broadcasters, telecommunications, and mining industries. Here’s a full list of federally regulated industries and workplaces. All workplaces that fall into this category must comply with the new amendments to Canada’s Labour Code and provide menstrual products free of charge in their washrooms.
Menstrual Products: What are the New Federal Requirements?
If you’re a federally regulated organization, we’ve pulled out the basics that you must follow in order to meet compliance requirements.
Provision of Menstrual Products: Employers must supply clean and hygienic tampons and menstrual pads in every room where there is a toilet. This applies to all toilet rooms, regardless of their designated gender.
Alternative Locations: If providing products in a toilet room is not feasible, employers must offer them in another accessible workplace location with reasonable privacy.
Disposal Containers: Covered containers for disposing of menstrual products are required in toilet rooms with one toilet and in each stall of toilet rooms with multiple toilets.
Effective Date: These regulations come into effect on December 15, 2023, with penalties for non-compliance.
Federal Menstrual Care Requirements: Product Selection
Federally regulated organizations must supply both pads and tampons.
Any brand may be provided though eco-friendly options are encouraged.
The regulation recommends consulting with employees and union representatives when choosing products, but it is not required.
Reusable products (such as reusable pads, cups, and period underwear) may be distributed. Still, if they are the only solution, they must be available in the same way as the requirement stipulates.
Federal Menstrual Care Requirements: Distribution
Period pads and tampons must be available in every room where there is a toilet, regardless of the assigned gender the room may have. As the Federal Government explains:
This initiative is inclusive of all workers who menstruate, and it will improve the well-being of nearly half a million workers who may require menstrual products during their work days, including cisgender women, non-binary individuals, transgender men, and intersex individuals.
If it is not feasible to have period care products in a toilet room, then they must be supplied in an area that is accessible at all times by employees, controlled by the employer, and also reasonably private. Toilet facilities where period products may not be feasible include mobile or remote workplaces. As the requirement states:
For example, employers with not easily accessible workplaces, such as remote work sites, rail, air, and road transportation, may consider providing menstrual products in office supply cabinets in employees’ designated resting rooms or in a menstrual product kit that can be easily carried.
What Are the Benefits of Canada’s Labour Code Menstrual Care Requirements?
Free and accessible period care products make a big positive impact—for those who menstruate and for businesses themselves!
Employee health and wellness: The lack of menstrual products poses health and safety risks. Faced with an unexpected period, a whopping 79% reported using an improvised solution, namely toilet paper (Free the Tampon survey). Not only is this uncomfortable, such “solutions” can lead to infection and other health complications—including absenteeism. Onsite period care is also good for mental health. Those without access report feelings of anxiety, shame, and stigma—especially when they are forced to ask their co-workers for products. By simply providing products, a more positive workplace is created.
Reduced absenteeism: Without products available, 62% of menstruators caught off guard leave work to purchase products at a store and 34% go home. Because of menstrual stigmas, employers are usually unaware this is even occurring! The solution is simple: provide period care, and expect increased productivity.
Create an equitable environment: Menstruation is a natural bodily function, like other toilet functions. By this logic, since toilet paper is provided, why not period care? Accessible pads and tampons provide freedom from unforeseen absenteeism for those who menstruate. And it demonstrates that all employees are welcome and supported.
Wholesale Period Care Subscriptions and Dispensers Make Labour Code Requirements Easy
joni is a Canadian menstrual care brand that has been providing disposable organic and biodegradable pads and tampons for end consumers since 2020. Our social giveback commitment created partnerships across Canada with non-profit organizations that distribute our products to those most in need as part of our period equity mission.
When Sheridan University Student Union (SSU) reached out to us for help with implementing their own on-campus period equity initiative, we knew we could help them make a big impact. This important partnership revealed pain points that organizations like SSU were facing. Walking into a big box store and purchasing the cheapest products to leave on washroom counters just doesn’t cut it.
Set it and forget it: As a result, we created a wholesale subscription program that sets organizations up with a regular delivery of products to meet their needs.
Dispenser solutions for organizations of all sizes: We created an innovative commercial freevend dispenser that incorporates a timed-delay feature post dispensing, encouraging sustainable use. Plus, adaptable internal chambers safeguard your capital investment, as dispensers remain viable even if products (and their dimensions) evolve. For small businesses or spaces, our open dispenser is practical for the wall or countertop.
Eco-friendly disposable pads and tampons: joni pads and tampons are free from harmful chemicals and fragrances and are made from organic ingredients. Biodegradable within 12 months (regular plastic products take hundreds of years), they’re a more sustainable option, even when thrown in the garbage. Plus we help you meet seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Period care products are not created equal! While the requirements don’t require you to provide eco-friendly options, joni supports better health and wellness; the chemicals and unbreathable plastic in conventional products can cause irritation and even infections—which many of our customers say joni relieves them from.
Period Equity: Period equity is a complicated and intersectional issue. Period poverty and socioeconomic discrimination play a large role, but there are other barriers to equity, including bias, stigmas, cultural differences, and gender. Providing accessible period care products in the workplace is an important equitable step forward.
Are You Ready for Canada’s Menstrual Care Labour Code Requirement?
Canada’s new labour code changes aim to ensure equitable access to menstrual products, improve employee well-being, and contribute to a healthier and more inclusive workplace.
For more information and to ensure you’re adhering to the most up-to-date information on Canada’s Labour Code Menstrual Care Requirements, please visit the government website.
If you’re not sure what you need to do to meet the requirements, reach out! We’re happy to help you through the process with our wholesale menstrual care solutions, as we have with SSU, the municipality of Saanich, the University of Victoria, the Victoria Airport, and many others. Whatever your size, we have a solution for you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for our workplace menstrual care newsletter.