Menstrual leave, for or against?
Numerous companies and countries have embraced menstrual leave as a workplace right, but some people are unsure as to what this promotes.
For instance, the people against think workplace inequality could worsen. Whilst those in favour think it unfair that women are forced to use sick leave for their periods.
At Khapregesic our goal is to elevate the conversation and encourage people who bleed to proudly own their cycle. A policy like this may be a step in the right direction, to feel empowered to discuss our cycle openly.
Now, let’s examine the facts… 👇
- Western Sydney University researchers found that 40 percent of women had taken a day off work or uni due to period pain.
- Menstrual cramps are responsible for an average of nine days of lost productivity per year.
- Around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime.
- One in 3 women quit daily activities owing to menstrual symptoms.
Overall, this data proves that period pain can affect one’s ability to perform everyday tasks, including work.
Workplace Success Story
A local workplace that adopted menstrual leave is Victoria Women’s Trust. The Trust performed an online survey of 3,400 people (across Australia and globally) which gave them valuable insight to those who were experiencing menstruation and menopause. One survey result which sparked interest was that 58% of respondents said that a day off to rest would make their period a better experience every month.
Soft sentiments of ‘rest’ and having a ‘better experience’ pale while witnessing a team member doubling over one day due to period pain and having to head home. As a result of this incident, the menstrual leave trial was strongly endorsed by the Board.
Their policy includes various options for employees experiencing period pain. These options include working from home, taking paid menstrual leave or being at the workplace and resting in a quiet area.
Lastly, to help other workplaces, Victoria Women’s Trust have even loaded a menstrual leave policy template on their website.
Executive Director, Mary Crooks’ words of wisdom 👇
“Experiences of menstruation and menopause can be very debilitating, yet we have been enculturated to mask its existence in the workplace, at schools and at home. This policy supports women in their ability to adequately self-care during their period and menopause, while not being penalised by having to deplete their sick leave.”
Often unspoken for good reasons, period stigma can be one argument made against menstrual leave.
Whether people feel comfortable sharing or believe it may prejudice their promotion prospects or even threaten their employment, it is important to respect the rights of the individual.
To uncover the extent of period stigma, 2,000 people were surveyed about their experiences in the workplace:
- 47% of people who bleed believe there is a definite stigma around periods in the workplace.
- There is currently a lack of conversation around menstruation in the workplace, 60% said they felt unable to discuss periods at all with their colleagues or managers. In male-dominated workspaces, it is even worse with 75% saying they were completely unable to address or discuss their periods at work.
- 57% have had to lie to their managers about their sick leave.
These stats are alarming, especially because period stigma can have such an impact on self-esteem and mental health generally. Our cycle is a natural monthly occurrence. Therefore, it should NOT be avoided in the workplace; it should be welcomed each month with the due care and respect it deserves.
Elevate the Conversation!
The data backs up everything we have been thinking for years. We need to collectively elevate the conversation and encourage people who bleed to proudly own their cycle. However, people need to feel comfortable to discuss periods with their colleagues and managers, even if it is to support other colleagues and start the conversation.
Workplaces must create a safe and welcoming place for menstruators to feel seen and heard. Start with basic items such as sanitary bins in the toilets and sanitary dispensers in staff rooms, for instance. Furthermore, staff training for both sexes must be put on the HR agenda to legitimise the conversations we need so badly.
Let’s hope that the introduction of these measures become the catalyst to achieving our holy grail, menstrual leave!
Our promise at Khapregesic is to help challenge prejudice around women’s health and elevate vital conversations. Drop us a line with your thoughts or write a blog for us to publish in your name.