Yesterday I came across this article and couldn’t resist a retweet. As soon as I read the title I loved it. The idea of period leave for women has been in the news for a while now being argued for and against, but this company in Bristol seems to be the first to actually implement it. The company is made up of mostly women, making it a perfect starting place for the policy. They strongly believe in changing the stigma that surrounds these delightful times of the month.
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) March 1, 2016
The period policy is the idea that women will be able to take paid leave from work during their periods. The idea is that it allows women to work more productively. Nobody can work effectively while in pain now can they? It not just about taking time off ill, it’s about empowering employees to work more productively. And Britain are not the first, there are already countries which have successful laws in place surrounding the idea.
I personally feel it is a great idea! Although there are also a lot of things that could go wrong.
My own experiences are varied.
I have had periods, particularly when I was younger before I began birth control, that were excruciating. At times the pain would cause me to throw up. But at the time I just stayed in school suffering silently at the back of the class putting my hand up to ask to go to the toilet if I felt sick. I went to a girls school and I remember one particular time when I had to go to the nurse who gave me pain killers and allowed me to lie on the bed until it got better before I went to class. Despite the school being understanding it still felt embarrassing to admit. It also commonly woke me during the night meaning I’d have to go to school with very little sleep.
Since starting birth control they are slightly better and painful cramps will only happen once every few months. But I still suffer a lot of other things during my periods. I usually get extremely bad headaches even strong painkillers can’t fix. I often get ill around the same time as your immune system can suffer on your period. And I find myself feeling exhausted constantly.
Personally there are months when I really wish the period policy was in effect where I work. These are the days I sit at work completely unable to concentrate or focus on tasks just wishing for half past 5 so that I can go home, change into jogging bottoms (that elastic waist can halve the pain compared to tight trousers cutting into my belly), get into bed and snuggle down for an early night. I know, from my experience of university where I actually could get away with working from home on my periods, that at these times I am twice as productive if I’m comfortable.
I’m sure the ability to work from a comfortable environment in comfy clothes on these days would allow me to be more productive than being at work.
For all these people that suffer from monthly pain, the period policy would be so greatly appreciated I am sure. But there will also be people who abuse it. I am pretty certain of that. It would be extremely hard to control as it is difficult to prove how much pain you are in. You will most definitely find women that take the time off when they are perfectly well. This is where it becomes difficult. You could end up giving the whole female population paid time off work for nothing.
I think in order to prevent this, if you take period leave off work you should still do some work. In some industries where this is difficult other tasks could be given by the company which can be completed from home. I don’t believe in having paid leave to do nothing, but I do believe in allowing work from home period leave. Because of this I have a feeling the policy won’t become a law. But I do think the odd forward thinking company who feel they have trustworthy employees will start adding it into their contracts. For women and sufferers it would be a great incentive to take up a job.
Why are people against it?
There are a lot of arguments against the idea, including that it goes against the whole fighting for equality in gender. But we are not completely the same. Women can suffer, and they shouldn’t have to in silence. If men had painful periods I would vote for them to get paid leave as well, but they don’t. It’s almost more of a human right. And really we aren’t fighting for pure equality we’re just fighting for human rights for everyone. Both genders aren’t exactly the same, but both deserve to be treated fairly.
Some women also argue that they want to keep their periods secret and would rather not let their boss know their cycle. And I can see where they’re coming from as there is still a lot of prejudice about periods. I mean you probably will get some men that tease women, because there will always be people like that in the world. But this is a problem with society, and hopefully by bringing to light and talking about periods more we can lesson this. Periods shouldn’t be shameful or joked about. Everyone knows they happen, and everyone knows they can be painful, so hopefully one day in the future they will become normal. The more we talk about them the shorter we will have to wait before the stigma is beaten.
I think the biggest argument against the policy is the fact it will be easy to abuse and people will most definitely abuse it. But extra measures can be taken to avoid this. I think a little more thought needs to go into it. A lot of people will read the hashtag and immediately think the worst, but what they really need to do is think, and read into it a little. There are so many aspects people don’t realise. Straight up paid leave each month is not what is happening. It’s understanding that some people can’t work whilst in that much pain, and these people deserve to work from home or have a couple of days off.
So, I am all for the period policy. If I had my own company with trustworthy employees I would definitely add it into their contracts. I would also suggest working from home as best they can, which can be monitored to ensure it isn’t being abused. But I do feel it may need to be a personal choice rather than completely universal. Individual companies should be able to opt in and set their own rules and guidelines suited to their employees and industry. The whole thing is less about just having paid day’s off, but allowing flexible working for those who need it in order to get the most productivity out of employees.