Requirements for employers to provide menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces

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Barrier free access to menstrual products

Menstruation is natural and menstrual products, such as pads and tampons, are essential to the health of Canadians. They enable menstruating persons to take part fully in the workforce and society at large.

Employers currently provide basic sanitation products such as toilet paper and soap. Starting December 15, 2023, employers must also provide menstrual products for their employees. These products must be readily available in all toilet room in workplaces controlled by the employer.

Providing employees with access to menstrual products supports better health outcomes and workplace productivity while reducing the stigma often associated with menstruation. Workplace access to products will reduce the medical and psychological impacts of:

  • reusing products
  • using products for longer than indicated
  • not using any products at all

Provision of menstrual products in workplaces controlled by the employer

Employers must supply menstrual products in toilet rooms in workplaces they control. To assess whether the employer controls the workplace, determine if the employer can grant or deny access to the workplace. For example:

  • Premises owned or leased by the employer for employees to use. These are workplaces controlled by the employer, since the employer can restrict who may access the space. These would be traditional workplaces.
  • Third party premises where an employee performs work, such as a client’s facility or employees teleworking at home. These aren’t workplaces controlled by the employer since the employer has no control over who may access these spaces.

Menstrual products in all toilet rooms

The regulations specify that menstrual products must be in all toilet rooms, regardless of their marked genders. This means that every female-identified, male-identified and all gender toilet rooms will need to have menstrual products. Unrestricted access to menstrual products better protects menstruating employees and makes sure that they feel safe to use the toilet room that best reflects their gender.

Employers must also make sure a covered container for disposal of menstrual products is provided. A disposal container must be placed in each toilet room that has one toilet. In rooms with multiple toilets, a disposal container must be in each toilet stall.

Information about menstrual product types

Under the regulations, menstrual products include both tampons and menstrual pads.


tampon with applicator and tampon without applicator

A tampon is a single-use disposable product designed to absorb menstrual fluids. They are inserted into the vagina when menstruating, with or without an applicator. Tampons are made from cotton, rayon, or a blend of both materials. In Canada, tampons are regulated as medical devices by Health Canada.

Menstrual Pads

pad with and without wings

A menstrual pad is a single-use disposable product designed as external protection. They absorb menstrual fluids by affixing to underwear during menstruation. Usually, they are made from rayon, cotton and plastics. Menstrual pads aren’t medical devices or regulated in Canada.

Considerations when choosing menstrual products

The choice of menstrual products is the responsibility of employers. While it’s not mandatory to consult employees, it’s encouraged to do so. When choosing menstrual products for their workplaces, employers could consider the following:

  • employee feedback and actual use of the products
  • body sizes and menstrual flow
  • product types, sizes, and absorbency
  • cultural values, beliefs, and experience with menstrual product use
  • scent free options or environmentally friendly products such as tampons with cardboard applicators

While tampons and pads are the menstrual products required by the regulations, employers may also consider reusable products. These products could create less waste and have a positive environmental impact. Providing reusable products would not replace the need to provide tampons and pads. Health and safety awareness for maintenance, cleaning and disinfecting reusable products should also be carefully assessed.

Clean and hygienic menstrual products

Employers must make sure menstrual products are clean and hygienic and readily available for employees. When deciding the dispensing and stocking of products, employers might consider factors such as:

  • toilet room environment: limited wall or counter space or cleanliness of toilet room
  • menstrual products follow the toilet paper guideline: if toilet paper is restocked, then menstrual products should be restocked
  • number of employees accessing the workplace: quantity of products to stock

The Table below offers ideas for product dispensing for informational purposes only.

Table 1: Ideas for menstrual product dispensing
Example Considerations
Envelope or container affixed to wall
  • small menstruating populations
  • easy to remove
Countertop basket or bin
  • low cost
  • minimal space required
  • easy to access
Freestanding storage drawers or cabinet
  • lower cost than a wall unit
  • space to stock a large amount/variety of products
Mechanical wall unit dispenser
  • affixed to wall to prevent tampering
  • limits product access to one at a time
  • may have coin operation and look like products cost money (when free for employees)
  • more expensive; installation and space considerations

Alternate workplace locations for accessing menstrual products with reasonable privacy

It may not always be possible to have menstrual products available in all toilet rooms within an employer-controlled workplace. In these situations, the regulations offer flexibility. Employers may choose an alternate location if it is in the same workplace and is always accessible to employees. It must offer a reasonable amount of privacy.

When choosing an alternate location, employers may benefit from consulting with their work place health and safety committee (or representative) and make sure:

  • menstrual products always remain accessible
  • location allows for discreet, easy access and employee privacy is maintained
  • menstrual products are available during toilet room closures
  • instructions for the safe use of menstrual products are available for employees

The Table below provides examples of alternate workplace location for accessing menstrual products.

Table 2: Examples of alternate workplace location for accessing menstrual products
Example Alternate workplace location
work site does not have a toilet room large enough to accommodate supplies provide products in an office supply cabinet or closet
toilet room is accessible to both the public and employees products stored in an area only accessible to employees
employee spends most of their time working outside, driving, or visiting different sites access products from the employer’s main depot, dispatch office, or head office
employee work on planes or trains where bathroom space is both limited and accessible to the public keep products where employees keep their personal items

Menstrual products in workplaces not controlled by the employer

The new provision for menstrual products relates to employer obligations for toilet rooms outlined in the applicable sanitation regulations. They don’t apply to employees conducting work activities in workplaces that aren’t controlled by the employer. For instance, employers would not need to offer menstrual products to an employee teleworking from home.

Employers may consider providing access to menstrual products for employees who conduct work outside of the workplaces they control. For example, employees in the road transportation sector that access public washrooms, menstrual products could be offered in a kit in the vehicle.

Menstrual health and hygiene awareness

It may be beneficial for employees to receive health and hygiene information related to menstrual products. Employers could consider providing the following information:

  • manufacturers' instruction on menstrual products
  • general information on the safe use and disposal of menstrual product
  • educate employees that menstrual products will be provided in all toilet rooms to be inclusive to all persons who menstruate

List of definitions

“Menstrual product” means tampons and menstrual pads.

“Toilet compartment (stall)” means a single compartment within a toilet room that contains more than one toilet, where each toilet is enclosed in a separate compartment (stall) and is fitted with a door and an inside locking device.

“Toilet room” means a room containing a toilet or urinal. A toilet room can be the entire room if only one toilet is present, or a larger room containing multiple compartments (stalls).

Contact Us

For more information or questions, workplace parties can contact the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049

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