Do menstrual periods hinder women in the workplace?


Tampons and pads used during a menstrual cycle. Photo/COURTESY
Tampons and sanitary pads used during a menstrual cycle. Photo/COURTESY

In Summary

  • The policy was adopted to provide women the option of working from home when they experience discomfort during their periods.
  • Yet period leave policies come with controversy.
  • Some people view such policies as a hindrance that might exclude women from the workplace.

Not all women talk openly about everything, even their menstrual cycles.

The women’s advocacy organization in Australia has been offering paid days off for painful periods, called “period leave” or “menstrual leave,” to its employees for the past 18 months.

These days do not count as “sick leave,” but they are specifically provided for those monthly occasions when a woman might request to stay home due to having uncomfortable symptoms related to her menstrual cycle.

Now, the organization is encouraging other employers to introduce similar menstrual policies, and it even provides a “menstrual policy template” for employers to download online to integrate into their own organizations.

“The interesting thing, over 18 months, I think the number of days of leave that my staff has claimed is probably about seven or eight across the whole office,” said Mary Crooks, executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust.

The menstrual leave policy was introduced after the organization launched a large research project called The Waratah Project, exploring how women collectively think about menstruation and menopause, Crooks said.

The policy that was adopted provides women the option of working from home when they experience discomfort during their periods, or they may access up to 12 days of paid leave a year.

Yet period leave policies come with controversy.

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