Millions of female workers deal with period pain during their monthly cycle, and most employers just ignore it. But one company in the UK has finally recognized that working while doubled over in pain isn’t the most efficient use of staff time, and is allowing women to build their cycles into their work schedules.
Co-Exist, a community venue in Bristol, is launching a new company policy that allows female employees to take time off due to menstruation and make it up later, according to a BBC interview with the company’s director, Bex Baxter. The full details of the policy will be announced during a seminar later this month on March 15.
Baxter told the Bristol Post that she has seen female staff members “bent over double” in pain at work. “They feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell,” she said. “And that is unfair.” She notes that period pain is something more than half of its staff potentially faces (of 24 employees, seven are men).
We know period pain can be nearly as bad as a heart attack, but the research on why that is or how best to treat it is sorely lacking. “Menstrual leave” policies have been implemented in Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea—with varied results. Female students were briefly granted menstrual leave at South Korean universities in 2007, but faculty members rejected the policy, saying female students were using it to get out of class.
The thought of female employees using period pain as an excuse to get time off from work doesn’t seem to worry Baxter, though. Talking to the Post, she cited the company ethos and workers’ dedication, saying, “I don’t think we will have an issue with people deceiving us.”