A survey of 100 women for BBC’s Radio 5 Live has revealed that 52% of female workers’ periods have impacted their ability to fulfil their work duties.
The survey also found that only 27% admitted this to their employer and that nearly a third of those who had been affected had taken at least one day of sick leave as a result.
In the UK and other EU states, there are no laws that guarantee women the right to take paid or unpaid leave for menstruation-related reasons. However, some Asian countries do provide such provisions, such as Japan and Taiwan.
Regardless of the lack of national laws in place, some individual companies have adopted policies in this area. Earlier this year, Coexist became the first company in the UK to introduce a menstruation policy. The Bristol-based organisation employs 31 members of staff, 24 of whom are women. The aim of their policy is to avoid female workers feeling stigmatised, create a more positive approach to menstruation and establish a happier and healthier working environment. Global sportswear brand Nike provides has provided menstrual leave as part of their Code of Conduct since 2007.
There have been attempts in countries outside Asia to introduce menstrual leave. However, they have all failed. Views on the matter are extremely divided. Some claim it is discriminatory and sexist to allow women more leave than men, while others argue that time off is necessary to deal with the pain.
What do you think? Do workplace menstrual leave policies tackle the taboo associated with menstruation in the workplace or do they have an opposite effect and create more stigma?