Information

Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021: guidance – September 2021

Guidance for responsible bodies about the exercise of the functions conferred on them by the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021.


Part C - Specific Guidance in relation to Section 2

Guidance in Part C relates specifically to education providers however this Guidance is in addition to that in Part A to which regard must also be given. Section 2 of the Act places a duty on education providers to establish and maintain arrangements for period products to be obtainable free of charge during term time on their premises, including in particular in every building normally used by pupils and students. Products are only required to be in one location within each such building, but education providers are free to make them available in more than one location in buildings if they choose to do so. The duty on education providers only extends to making free period products available to learners attending their premises in person and does not require them to post products to remote learners.

This duty applies to all primary and secondary schools in Scotland (including independent, special and grant-aided schools) as well as all publicly-funded Scottish colleges and universities. Children and young people who are not attending school for any reason will be able to obtain products through arrangements put in place by local authorities under Section 1, but local authorities may wish to consider putting in place specific arrangements for children and young people who are home-schooled.

1. What constitutes a building?

This includes buildings used by students for non-educational purposes (e.g. eating, leisure or sport), as well as those used for learning (e.g. classrooms, lecture-theatres, laboratories), so long as they form part of the premises of the education provider.

In an exception to the above, products do not have to be provided in a building, even if it is normally used by pupils or students, if the building is considered unsuitable by the education provider for the provision of period products. This might be, for example, because there are no toilets or changing facilities in the building. However education providers must consult with pupils or students on the suitability of buildings before any decisions are taken in reliance on this exception. Where buildings are considered unsuitable for the provision of products education providers should ensure that information is clearly visible as to the nearest location where products can be obtained.

While the Act does not define a building, if two buildings are joined by an internal or covered passageway, they can be considered a single building, therefore having products available in one location would be sufficient. Conversely, if what appears to be a single building is internally partitioned so that it can't be accessed from one part to the other, that ought to be considered two buildings, and free products would need to be available in at least one location in each section of the building.

2. Detail on locations where products must be made available

While products must be obtainable in every building normally used by pupils and students and suitable for the provision of products, education providers have the flexibility to decide (subject to consultation) which products should be made obtainable and in what way and in which locations in each such building, as long as free products are available in at least one location. For example, an education provider may choose, following consultation, to put individual single-use products in one or more toilets in each building, but make larger volumes of products, including reusable products, available in other locations.

In relation to residential accommodation managed by the education provider, free period products only need to be obtainable in a single location within each building, for example a toilet in an area open to all residents. The Act does not require products to be placed in toilets in individual rooms or flats.

3. Consultation

Education providers should follow the Guidance for all responsible bodies on consultation as set out in Part A.

Education authorities may choose to devolve consultation and/or delivery to individual schools. If they chose to do so their statement on exercise of functions in relation to section 2 duties should include a summary of common themes in consultation and delivery across the school estate alongside specific examples of how consultation and provision is managed by individual schools and the ways in which these arrangements meet the particular requirements.

Consultation in schools must include pupils who may need to use products in the future so the consultation must be open to pupils who are not yet menstruating. In relation to primary schools this can be proportionate and need not include pupils in the very early years. Local authorities may also wish to consult parents of school pupils as part of consultation in schools, for example through the Parent Council.

It would be good practice for consultation and delivery design in schools to be linked to menstrual health education and tackling stigma. There are helpful educational resources available at:

https://rshp.scot/

https://young.scot/campaigns/national/periods

Example

The University of Strathclyde set up an Access to Free Sanitary Product Steering Committee to inform their voluntary delivery that:

  • engaged with the Estates Team and consulted with students
  • ran a student survey to identify the most appropriate products, what users priorities were, and how to receive products
  • Identified 10 key distribution points based on the student survey
  • hosted focus groups including with the feminist society, LGBTQ+ group and open groups for anyone to attend

4. Choice of products in primary schools

The appropriateness of the provision of tampons in primary schools has previously been raised as a specific issue, however as noted in Part A, responsible bodies should not make assumptions about which products particular individuals may wish to use, and should take account of consultation responses on this point. Education authorities may want to consider the availability of tampons in primary schools through local risk assessment processes.

5. Private halls of residence

Privately-operated halls of residence are not covered by section 2 duties. However, education providers must make enough products available at locations on campus (e.g. in departments, libraries, etc.) to meet the term-time needs of students, so students living in private halls will be able to collect the products they need from these locations. In addition, students (whether staying in private or college/university-owned halls) could also obtain the products they need through local authority arrangements established under section 1.

6. Access to free products outwith term time

There is no requirement on education providers to make period products obtainable for use outwith term time. Outwith term time, pupils and students will be able to access free period products under the arrangements put in place by local authorities under section 1.

For pupils attending schools under local authority control, authorities may wish to consider the most appropriate way to discharge their duty to those pupils under section 1, for example by

  • making sufficient products available toward the end of term for pupils to take away for the holidays
  • providing additional access points during school holidays
  • continuing to make period products obtainable in schools that are open to pupils for holiday activities

This should be considered in consultation with pupils.

7. Remote Study

Education providers do not have to put in place arrangements to provide products to students at Scottish institutions who are studying abroad or remotely (from elsewhere in Scotland). But such students are entitled to collect sufficient products for their term-time needs while on their home institution's premises.

Annex

Important Information On Tampon Use

Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but very serious illness that can develop rapidly in anyone. But don't worry – across the whole of the UK, there are only about 20 cases reported each year that are associated with people using tampons. TSS is so rare that most doctors will not come across TSS during their medical careers. Further information on TSS is available at www.tssis.com.

Symptoms of TSS include: a sudden high fever usually over 39°C, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle aches, a sun burn like rash, sore throat, dizziness and/or fainting, and severe flu-like feeling. Not all symptoms of TSS may occur simultaneously.

In the unlikely event that symptoms of TSS occur, remove the tampon, consult a doctor urgently and inform them that a tampon has been used. If left untreated, TSS can be fatal. The following actions will help reduce the very small risk of TSS occurring:

  • At night, insert a fresh tampon before going to sleep and replace it first thing in the morning. Change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours or more often if needed.
  • Think about switching between tampons and towels, pads/liners from time to time during your period.
  • Always wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
  • Only use tampons during menstruation, use only one tampon at any time, and ensure the removal of the last tampon once menstruation has finished.

To help the environment, remember to dispose of tampons, applicator tubes and wrappers in a waste bin. Please DO NOT flush tampons, applicator tubes or wrappers.

Contact

Email: sjsu@gov.scot

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