It's usual for companies to offer their female employees maternity leave, but what about period leave? One company in the United Kingdom has decided to embrace a policy that allows women to take time off work during their time of the month.
Coexist, a Bristol-based community interest company, has a mostly female workforce, and one of its directors, Bex Baxter, said she has seen women bent over in pain at work because of period-related pain, the Bristol Post reported. She said many women think they are not allowed to go home because of the pain and believes that reversing the policy could actually increase productivity.
“At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain —no matter what kind — they are encouraged to go home,” the Post reported that Baxter said. “But, for us, we wanted a policy in place which recognizes and allows women to take time for their body's natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.”
Productivity revolves around a cycle of work that goes with the cycles of the body, she said. Women at the company are free to take off if they want, but it is not mandatory.
“I was talking to someone the other day and they said if it were men who had periods then this policy would have been brought in sooner,” Baxter said.
Period pain, which some studies suggest 90 percent of women get at some point in their menstrual cycle, can be intense. About 2 percent of women describe their pain as severe .
Period policy in Asia: 'Menstrual leave may be seen as sign of weakness' https://t.co/t977JAUh5Q
— The Guardian (@guardian) March 4, 2016
Not all women think period-leave policies are good decisions. Writing for Slate in 2014, Katy Waldman argued that employers should give women enough paid sick leave to be able to take off in the event of extreme menstrual pain, arguing that a policy of menstrual leave is intrusive.
Reacting to the story from Bristol, writer Lizzie Crocker suggested in the Daily Beast that asking for paid sick days just for menstrual leave could lead to more gender inequality in the workplace. Such a policy could be used to limit the ascendancy of women in various workplace roles, she said.