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Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act 2021

Local authorities to ensure period products generally obtainable free of charge

5.Section 1 requires local authorities to ensure that anyone within their local area who requires period products can obtain them free of charge, in sufficient quantities to meet their needs. Local authorities meet this duty by establishing and maintaining arrangements for making period products obtainable. They have flexibility as to how they do this; however, the arrangements put in place must respect the particular requirements set out in section 4, which are that products are accessible with reasonable ease, in a way that respects dignity and that a reasonable choice of different types of products is obtainable. In addition, local authorities must consult people in their area about the premises in which, and where in those premises, free products should be obtainable, which types of product should be obtainable and the ways in which free products should be obtainable (as provided for in section 7).

6.Period products are defined (in section 9(a)) as manufactured articles the purpose of which is to absorb or collect menstrual flow. A person is entitled to obtain (or have someone else obtain on their behalf) sufficient products to meet their needs while in Scotland. A person’s needs are their needs arising from menstruation by the person (section 9(c)). Therefore, a local authority must take into account the fact that some people experience very heavy periods and that such persons are entitled to obtain sufficient products to meet all of their needs in a way that respects their dignity.

7.The arrangements made could include those that provide for period products to be obtainable free of charge only in certain locations by certain people. For example, the local authority’s arrangements might include making period products available to persons using a particular service in a particular location, such as a homeless shelter. Those unable to access that location would be able to obtain products via other arrangements made by the local authority (and users of that particular service would not be limited to obtaining products from that location).

8.Section 1(3)(a) requires local authorities to ensure that free period products are obtainable by another person on behalf of the person who needs the products. This allows, for example, a carer to obtain products on behalf of the person they care for.

9.Local authorities may include delivery options in their arrangements for ensuring that period products are obtainable free of charge. Section 1(3)(b) permits a local authority which chooses to offer delivery to require the person to whom the products are delivered to pay costs associated with packing and delivery, except where the person could not be reasonably expected to obtain the products from the local authority in any other way. For example, if a person who needs to obtain free period products has a disability, it may not be reasonable to expect them to collect products if all locations at which the local authority is making products obtainable are at some distance from the person’s residence. Whether or not packing and delivery are free or charged for, the period products themselves must be free of charge.

10.People are not limited to obtaining products from the local authority area in which they live. For example, if a person who lives in one local authority but works in another finds it more convenient to obtain some or all of the products they need in the area in which they work, they are entitled to do that.

11.Section 1(4) states that the needs of a person who lives in Scotland are to be regarded as all arising while the person is in Scotland. So, for a person who lives in Scotland, products are obtainable for use in Scotland and elsewhere, for example if the person is going on holiday. In contrast, visitors to Scotland are only entitled to obtain, free of charge, such period products as they need during their stay in Scotland.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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