HMRC to offer free period products to staff

Department says move is “another positive step” to make sure workers are treated with dignity, empathy and respect
Steph Gray via Flickr

By Jim Dunton

03 Jun 2021

HM Revenue and Customs is to provide staff with free sanitary products from the end of this month in a move senior managers said would put it at the forefront of government departments.

Chief people officer Esther Wallington and estates director Richard West announced the plans in an internal e-mail to the department’s 50,000-plus staff.

They said free period products would be made available in all female, gender-neutral and accessible toilets in HMRC offices from the end of June.

“This is another positive step towards making HMRC a great place to work, where we prioritise the wellbeing of our colleagues and people are treated with empathy, dignity and respect,” they said.

“We’ve worked in partnership across our CPO and estates teams and with our tax specialists to be able to offer quality sanitary provision at the point of need, free of charge and without any benefit in kind implication for colleagues.

“We’d like to thank all colleagues involved for their contribution to providing a more inclusive workplace.”

Wallington and West said they were “extremely proud” to be one of the first government departments to offer free period products.

“We look forward to working together to make the provision as environmentally sustainable as possible,” they added.

The Government Digital Service took the decision to provide free tampons and sanitary towels for female staff in 2016 after lobbying from the GDS Women’s Group, which argued that period products could not be considered “luxury items”.

Zara Farrar, head of the women’s group at the time, said GDS’s move followed of “months of [presenting] business cases” and “just saying the word tampon enough times to senior men”.

Last year the Scottish Parliament approved legislation to make sanitary products freely available in a bid to combat period poverty.

The world-first law places a duty on Scotland's local authorities to make sure that anyone who needs period products has access to them.

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