Recently it was revealed that the UK company, Coexist, was going to become the first in the country to allow women time off work with period pains – meaning that, the ‘natural rhythm’ of a woman’s cycle would be taken into consideration regarding when she is expected to be present at work.
Company director, Bex Baxter, explains -
‘We wanted a policy in place which recognises and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting it under the label of illness.’
‘Naturally when women are having their periods they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies’
She goes on to say, ‘It’s not just about taking time off if you feel unwell – but about empowering people to be their optimum selves’
Hmm. Is that right.
Because, in theory I get the intentions behind the idea – why should period pain be any different to any other sort of pain, but in reality, doesn’t this just go towards creating another reason to employ a man (or post menopausal woman) over one who might expect time off *every* month because she’s menstruating?
Who could really blame an employer, when given the choice between a woman who was going to expect regular time off to ‘keep warm and nourish her body’ or someone who was going to be onboard and present in the work place, for choosing the latter?
Sure, it could be seen as ethically unsound to discriminate against a woman because she menstruates but then isn’t it discriminating against men (or those who don’t have painful periods) because they don’t?
We all know them, the person at work who seems to have a cold every other week or misses days regularly – and, regardless of whether their reasons are fabricated or genuine, when you’re working your arse off and turning up every day it’s bloody annoying – not least of all for the person paying the wages.
Supporters of the new idea argue that a women suffering from period pains can work just as productively at home. Yeah, I’m sure they can, who can’t find a reason why they’d get more done on the sofa than they would an office.
But, that’s not really the point of employment, the point of employment is to turn up and get the job done.
And I’m speaking as a women who suffers from period pains, some so bad they remind me of labour contractions. Would I expect time off work because of them? Not in a million years. I take a pain-killer and get on with it, I don’t want special allowances because I’m a woman, and certainly don’t want to encourage another reason to employ a man over a woman (I’ll leave the extended maternity leave debate until later)
A woman should no sooner expect monthly time of work for period pains than a person should expect regular time off work because they’ve had a bad nights sleep (and yes, insomnia and lack of sleep can be debilitating) Where does it end?
And encouraging employers to follow suit, might help nurture women in their ‘winter state’ but at the risk of giving employers another reason to not employ women of a certain age.
Everyone’s entitles to the odd day off now and again, but monthly time off for menstruating women? Isn’t equality in employment difficult enough already – why make it even harder?