The Danger of Granting Women Regular Time Off For Period Pains

katyfeminism, women5 Comments



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?



katyThe Danger of Granting Women Regular Time Off For Period Pains

5 Comments on “The Danger of Granting Women Regular Time Off For Period Pains”

  1. Joliene Ivory

    Obviously you do not suffer as much then. I belong to a group of women online, close to about 20,000 of them who every month suffer from suicidal thoughts and tendencies, horrific fatigue, pain, and an inability to actually work while they are at work anyways. The only reason I have a job and can keep a job is because I have decent PTO and my job while it does have it’s busy periods it does afford me the luxury of some quiet time during the day. Not all women are so lucky. I think your opinion is that of a man’s and if we banded together and made sure that this was standard operating procedure and that no woman could be let go regardless of her extra time off than that would beneficial. These women that show up to work during PMDD are not at functional levels anyways. There is wisdom in the old ways. Allowing women to rest and recuperate during this time is essential.

  2. Emily Turvey

    I agree to an extent. However I do think this is something that could certainly have the privilege abused! How will they know when its the time of the month? I’m sure they won’t be asking for proof?

    Or 2 times in one month? “Oh I am very irregular” only to take the time off to take themselves off for a day of retail therapy or cuddles with a loved one for no other reason than just wanting to get out of work!

    I am a PMDD sufferer and when I say sufferer I mean it, the detrimental mental state that occurs when the hormones begin to surge is enough to make you wish you were no longer in existence.

    Think of PMT multiplied by 10, with the rage of the hulk, sadness like a dementor (from harry potter) has taken every happy emotion from your brain, and worrying chronically about anything and everything the mind can conjure up! It’s hugely unpleasant.

    Now that is something that requires time off work! So much so I am now self employed – alright I may not be affluent FAR from it and most months it is a struggle as I am finding that 14 days out of 30 I am unable to work productively , let alone feel brave enough to leave my house!!

    The answer….. Anti depressants and a long list of other substitutes that the doctors wish to throw at everyone, mis diagnosis of bipolar disorder or Borderline personality disorder?
    I refuse to take them and still 7 years post diagnosis of PMDD I still search for a more natural remedy.

    There is not a huge amount of the 3% of woman who suffer with this, that we can actually do other than ride out the symptoms and pray that no one confronts us, mentions we have something on our face or brings up a touchy subject, because god forbid we may just crumble into a ball of tears, throw our computer or even just quit – only to regret it 5 days later when we are feeling a little more normal.

    I agree periods can be painful! I deal with mine as I have a great pain threshold, but there are hours where I cant move because the cramps are so sore!

    So yes, although this is something that employers need to recognise could be abused, I would think this is something that could really help a lot of fellow PMDD sufferers.

    If you don’t have PMDD you will never know!
    Period pains? Yeah man up take a hot water bottle – find your own way to deal with this inconvenience.

    Time off due to an uncontrollable change of mentality?
    I think this is something that should be discussed!

  3. Giselle

    Your views are harmful and ignorant. Statements like this – and on the internet, no less! – perpetuate harmful and unfounded views. You missed the point that “periods” can be extremely painful for some women due to issues like endometriosis and PMDD.

    Get informed.

  4. Lisa

    You ought to interview women with severe PMS and PMDD and get a broader understanding before you go whoring yourself out to every male executive by stroking their phallic egos with articles that minimize and discredit legitimate women trying to survive in a world of little compassion. Your article is immature and smacks of lacking intelligence.

  5. Charly Lester

    Completely agree – we can’t argue for equal pay on the one hand, and then demand special time off on the other! It flies in the face of every step taken to suggest we’re equal members of the workforce. And realistically anyone who has such bad period pain they need to take a sick day, should just take a sick day … in the same way someone with issues sleeping would probably take a sick day if he or she felt incable of working.

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