A British company has announced a novel approach to period pain by introducing an official “period policy” that will give female staff time off work during a painful monthly cycle.
Bristol-based community interest company Coexist is believed to be the first company in the U.K. to draw up formal guidelines to let women take time off for period pain without labelling it as an illness. It hopes this will boost staff morale and increase productivity in the workplace.
“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,” director Bex Baxter, 40, told the Bristol Post. “Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell. 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 recognises and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.”
Of the 31 Coexist employees seven are male and Baxter said they are just as open to the idea as the women.
She pointed out that women can be three times as productive in the time immediately after a period.
“I want us to break down that shame and replace the negativity with positivity,” she said. “It’s not just about taking time off if you feel unwell — but about empowering people to be their optimum selves. If you work with your natural rhythms, your creativity and intelligence is more fulfilled. And that’s got to be good for business.”
Baxter also stressed that female staff will be under no obligation to take period leave: “It is not mandatory, women do not have to take time off on their periods if they don’t want to.
“I was talking to someone the other day and they said if it were men who had periods then this policy would have been brought in sooner,” she added. “But we just want to celebrate and start talking about menstruation in a positive way, rather than the negativity which has shrouded the cycle.”
For some women a painful monthly cycle makes even the simplest of tasks difficult. According to the NHS, up to 90 percent of women experience period pain (dysmenorrhoea), ranging from moderate (20 percent) to severe (two percent). One study claims 14 percent of women are frequently unable to work because of the pain.