Periods is one of those things we don’t talk about nearly enough. They are messy and yucky and rarely welcome, unless you’re desperately hoping that you’re not pregnant, so it’s something we don’t openly discuss unless we have to. Have you ever asked a man to buy you tampons? The reaction is generally not the greatest.
For some reason most of us hide our intense period pain especially at work. We’ve fought so long and hard (and the fight is not over) for equal rights in the workplace that we’re scared to show anything that puts us in the ‘weaker sex’ category. We do not see period pain as illness but more something we have to suck up and pretend is not happening.
A company in the UK with a mainly female workforce have introduced a ‘period policy’ that allows women to go home if they are suffering from period pain. Coexist, a community interest firm in Bristol believes tapping into employees’ natural cycles will benefit everyone and increase productivity in the workplace. Hallelujah!
Imagine instead of whispering to a female colleague about ‘that time of the month‘ you could tell your boss you need to go lie in bed with a hot water bottle and a couple of naprogesic?
Although ‘period leave’ might be a new concept in the UK , who still tax tampons and sanitary pads like Australia, there are other countries who have been embracing menstrual leave for decades.
In 1947, Japan began offering leave to women dealing with intense pain from periods. South Korea started offering one day off a month for women in 2004, Indonesia offers women two days off a month, Taiwan provides three days of period leave a year, and this year China’s Anhui province granted women two days off a month for their periods if women have a doctor’s certificate.
Sportswear brand Nike also introduced menstrual leave in 2007 and makes their business partners sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure they maintain the company’s standards.
However some of these countries such as Indonesia require a physical exam as a proof and in many other countries women don’t exercise their rights to menstrual leave afraid they will be judged by their male colleagues. Progress can be a slow beast but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t move towards change.
If we offered menstrual leave in Australia we might create a more productive workplace instead of giving less than our best cramped over a desk. There have been arguments that such a policy would be taken advantage of, however so is sick leave but we still grant it because it would be unfair for someone to drag themselves to work when they didn’t feel well. Oh hang on…
We might also help to destigmatise periods, because so many of us have them, and so many of us suffer with them, and it would be nice not to have do that in silence.
Do you think Australia should bring in menstrual leave?