Should companies allow women time off work for period pain?

Women are hesitant to talk about their cycles, out of fear of being considered inappropriate or unprofessional.

While talking about your period at work isn't ‘ladylike’, asking for time off during your monthly's is unheard of. But that may be about to change...

Many women experience monthly pains, usually called menstrual cramps or period pain, it is often excruciating and can sometimes be accompanied by nausea, constipation, or disorientation. Being at work during this time can make it hard to concentrate and be productive.

However, discussing menstruation is considered taboo in many environments, including with colleagues, men and superiors. Therefore, women are hesitant to talk about their cycles, in the workplace, out of fear of being considered inappropriate or unprofessional.

In addition to the embarrassment women are socialised to feel, that talking about your period isn’t ‘ladylike’, admitting to needing time off (especially personal time!) is generally frowned upon by other aspirational professionals.

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But every other kind of pain (migraines, stomach cramps and so on) often results in a day or two off work, so now a UK- based company is asking, “Why not period pain too?”

Coexist, a non-profit organisation in Bristol, England, has announced plans to implement a new policy which aims to accommodate female employees suffering from menstrual pain.

Bex Baxter, company director, says, "As a manager I have seen women really suffer with their periods and I have even found them doubled over in a lot of pain." The company knows that the adage ‘a present employee is a productive employee’ is nothing but a myth and has dedicated the business to creating an environment which allows employees to achieve a healthier work-life balance.

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They’re allowing women to take the time they need, and not force them to stay at work while battling their symptoms."This is not about employees taking more time off, but working more flexibly and efficiently around their menstrual cycle and encouraging a work-life balance” Baxter explains.

Company culture plays a massive role in job satisfaction and it’s important to retain your best employees by creating an environment that puts their wellbeing first.

While Coexist is the first company in the UK to introduce a menstrual leave policy, Nike included it in their international code of conduct back in 2007. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have had similar policies in place since 1947, 2001, and 2013 respectively.

What are your thoughts on a ‘period policy’ in the workplace?