By Sonia BIlladeau
On March 2nd a UK company called Coexist announced a “period policy” that will allow women to rest from work when on their menstrual cycles, without classifying it as a sick day. This policy is to build a more effective workplace among their employees.
And, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot controversy regarding this policy.
Japan already had a policy where women can take the time to rest from period pain. In fact, it is a woman’s right to take time off in Japan because it is protected by law, according to The Guardian.
So, would a period policy be good or bad for a company? Here are some pros and cons discussed by the UK and Japan.
Con: Everyone Knows It’s Your Time of the Month
There’s a potential “yikes” forming in our mouth. A woman worker in Japan said, “If you take menstrual leave, you’re basically broadcasting to the entire office which days of the month you have your period. It’s not the sort of thing you want to share with male colleagues…” Taking a period day or two would mean notifying your boss and asking for those days off which could be… well, embarrassing.
Pro: Period Positivity
Let’s face it: every woman in the world has/had a period, so why is it still such a taboo? When someone says “period”, men and yes, even women, make the face we know so well. But this policy has the potential to make period-shaming disappear! Women could become more confident in something that happens to them naturally. The director of Coexist said, “For too long there’s been a taboo surrounding periods – I have women staff telling me they’re ashamed to admit they’re in pain. I want us to break down that shame and replace the negativity with positivity.”
Con: Weakness in the Workplace
Since the late 1800s, women have been fighting for equal rights in the workforce, and some would say if women get privileges from work, then it is not equal. Also, taking a menstrual leave could be interpreted as a sign of weakness, according to a Japanese worker. A comment from The Guardian states, “[It] looks like it is protecting women’s rights, but it eventually will make things worse. The discrimination at work will never end if the rights of women and men are not balanced.”
Pro: But Workplace Improvement!
Coexist designed the period policy so women workers can be most efficient at work. Women workers can take the time off to gather and renew their strength. Coexist’s director explained, “I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods. Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell.”
Pro: Not Reaching Your Sick Day Limit
The “Pioneering Period Policy” leader, Alexandra Pope, said, “And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain – no matter what kind – they are encouraged to go home. But, for us, we wanted a policy in place which recognizes and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.”
Con: Possible Abuse
Some would say if women can get a whole off because of their menstrual cycle, would they want to go back for the next three weeks of the month? And what if menstrual leave was paid? Some may say women might abuse it. But there’s an easy fix: “Lots of women in another department used to take menstrual leave because they didn’t realize those days off were unpaid. As soon as someone pointed out that they weren’t getting paid during that time, they stopped taking time off,” according to a new policy worker.
Ladies, what say you? Is this something you'd be all for, or completely against?