Period poverty, the lack of access to menstrual products and healthcare during menstruation, is a deeply concerning issue that affects millions of women in South Africa. However, what often goes unnoticed is the significant role mid-month cashflow constraints play in exacerbating period poverty for female employees. By re-thinking payroll practices, employers can make a profound impact in addressing this issue and supporting their female workforce.

The Link between Mid-Month Cashflow Constraints and Period Poverty

1. Financial Strain: Mid-month cashflow issues can result from various factors, such as irregular pay schedules or unforeseen expenses, leaving female employees financially constrained. The lack of disposable income during this period makes it challenging for them to afford menstrual products.

2. Health and Well-being: When women face financial constraints during menstruation, they may resort to using inadequate or unhygienic alternatives, jeopardising their menstrual health and overall well-being.

3. Absenteeism and Reduced Productivity: The anxiety and discomfort associated with period poverty may lead to increased absenteeism as female employees struggle to attend work during menstruation. This absenteeism can impact workplace productivity and team dynamics.

Why Employers Should Re-think Payroll Practices

1. Earned Wage Access: Implementing earned wage access (EWA) as part of payroll practices can offer a solution to mid-month cashflow issues. EWA allows employees to access a portion of their earned wages before the traditional payday, providing them with the financial flexibility needed to manage their expenses, including purchasing menstrual products.

2. Promoting Gender Equality: By addressing period poverty through reformed payroll practices, employers can demonstrate their commitment to gender equality and fostering an inclusive work environment where all employees feel supported and valued.

3. Enhanced Employee Well-being: Providing female employees with the means to pay for proper feminine hygiene products when they need it - through benefits such as EWA - has a profound effect on their overall well-being. By easing financial stress and reducing the anxiety that arises from not being able to access essential menstrual products, employees may experience improved mental health and job satisfaction. This newfound peace of mind can translate into heightened productivity and a deeper commitment to their work, fostering a more content and dedicated workforce. When employees are supported in managing their menstrual health, they can fully focus on their professional responsibilities, creating a positive and thriving work environment.

4. Reduced Absenteeism: Providing timely access to earned wages through EWA can help reduce absenteeism related to period poverty. Female employees can better manage their menstrual health and attend work consistently, contributing to a more stable and productive workforce.

Mid-month cashflow issues for female employees are a significant contributor to period poverty, impacting women's health, productivity, and overall well-being. Employers have the power to address this issue and support their female workforce by rethinking payroll practices. By implementing earned wage access and providing employees with the means to access their earned wages when needed, employers can make a profound difference in combating period poverty and promoting gender equality. As we re-imagine payroll practices, we create a more supportive and inclusive work environment where women can thrive without the burden of period poverty. By prioritising the menstrual health and well-being of our female employees, we take a step towards a brighter future that empowers women, fosters a stronger workforce, and promotes a more equitable society for all.