Although menstruation is a normal part of life for most women, it still seems to be a taboo topic in the workplace. Currently, the UK employment law states there is NO menstrual leave policy.
Here at fluxies, we are just as shocked as you that the UK has no policy and believe menstrual leave is important and should be normalised in the workplace.
What is Menstrual Leave?
Menstrual leave refers to an employee taking unpaid leave from work due to menstruation-related medical issues called dysmenorrhoea. Dysmenorrhea can include symptoms such as abdominal cramps, period pains (cramps), heavy bleeding or other related complications caused by ovulation, pregnancy or menopause symptoms (if applicable). Some women may even suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a severe form of PMS, and causes various emotional and physical symptoms.
Is Menstrual Leave a new policy?
The answer is no...
This type of leave has gained popularity among many countries around the world, including South Korea, Japan and Australia. Yet still, there are many sceptics who don't think this concept should be implemented, because they believe women may take advantage of this policy by faking their symptoms just so they can rest at home during their period.
Let us explain why more work needs to be done on menstrual leave, and how we believe that period and period-related symptoms are a genuine reason to take time off work, and how women should be granted paid menstrual leave and flexible working.
Women may feel 'uncomfortable' to ask for menstrual leave.
There are many reasons why women feel uncomfortable asking for menstrual leave. They may be afraid of being judged as weak or less professional, or they might worry about being seen as less productive by their colleagues and managers. Women also don't want to be perceived as a burden on their employers or other people at work who are doing extra work, because they may have left early or taken time off during her period.
To avoid this embarrassment, they may call in sick so they don't have to face talking about these symptoms, which should not be the case. Women should feel comfortable talking about any period-related issues.
Women may have to 'prove' they are in pain.
One main concern for women is having to prove this suffering. This may include having to show a doctor's note for proof of their suffering during their period. Due to this fear, many women will call in sick to avoid this embarrassment and just take part in remote work from home.
According to UK law, employees facing extreme menstrual pain or other related issues must take sick leave. However, statutory sick pay (SSP) is not provided for the first three days of absence. This means many women who take time off due to their periods will likely not get paid. This can lead to a substantial finance loss for a woman if they need to take time off every month.
More support and information is needed about menstrual leave.
It's important for women to feel like they can openly discuss their periods, and menstrual leave would allow them the time and space to do so. Menstrual leave should be available in all workplaces, but it also needs more support from companies so that women don't feel embarrassed or ashamed about taking their time off.
By offering menstrual leave, employers can create a safe and comfortable environment for women to take care of their needs. They can also ensure that their employees don't feel like they are a burden or are being judged for taking time off during their periods. Allowing employees to take leave because of period pain can help them seek the help they need, increase productivity, and boost morale. Plus, companies with menstrual leave are often seen as more supportive employers.
Employers should also provide information about menstrual leave, so that women know what to expect, how to use it, and how much leave they have per month. This will make it easier for them to take advantage of the leave and not feel discriminated against. Menstrual leave is an important step in creating an equal and supportive workplace for all employees.
How to take a step forward.
We need to normalise women's bodies and periods. Menstrual leave is a great step forward, but we still have a long way to go before it becomes the norm. It is important to ensure that menstrual leave policies are effective and well-enforced in the long term.
Employers should ensure that menstrual leave policies are applied consistently and fairly across all employees. This means that any employee who requests menstrual leave should be granted it without question or judgement. In this way, we can help normalise periods and make menstrual leave a common part of the workplace.
To create a truly inclusive and supportive workplace, employers should also provide resources such as menstrual health education, access to period products, and a safe space for employees to discuss their menstrual health. This will help destigmatize periods and ensure that all employees feel comfortable talking about their menstrual health and taking advantage of any menstrual leave policies in place.