Period Leave – Should your Business Introduce Leave for those Suffering Menstrual Pain?
For too long period pain has been a taboo subject. To compete with men women (and anyone with a uterus) have had to conceal their menstrual pain and to take sick leave if it means they are unfit to work. It has been an invisible condition which women have had to suffer in silence, much like the menopause.
However, some countries are starting to recognise how failing to recognise and make provision for the pain caused by menstruation unfairly prejudices women at work. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Zambia, and more recently, the first country in Europe, Spain have all approved period leave enabling women to take leave specifically recognising that it is due to their menstrual pain. In Spain the legislation will provide for as much leave as is necessary and it will be paid by the Government, not the employer. In doing so they have brought out into the open something which has no doubt held women back for generations. In the UK several campaigning groups are calling for similar action, such as Bloody Good Period.
For those with related conditions, such as endometriosis, menstrual pain can be debilitating, and such conditions could amount to a disability depending on the extent of the symptoms. However, the condition has yet to be defined as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, despite campaigners arguing that it should be.
According to Bloody Good Period more is needed to support those who have painful periods. They assert that 73% of people who menstruate have struggled to complete their work as they would like due to their periods and for 79% of respondents, this is due to menstrual pain.
So, what can your organisation do to help those who suffer period pain and related conditions?
- Much can be done by creating a sympathetic and open culture at in the workplace in which women and those with a uterus feel able to talk openly about any pain they are experiencing.
- Being flexible about working hours and arrangements will also enable those who are suffering pain to keep working whilst taking adequate rest breaks and remaining comfortable.
- Developing and implementing a period leave policy to recognise that time off may be needed
- Talking openly about period pain and related conditions with all staff so that everyone can support those who may suffer it.
If you would like to talk more about how you can support those who suffer period pain we would love to help. Call us on 0203 858 7965