In a survey, 84% of women wanted to see PMS leave implemented by law in the UK
Cripplling cramps, headache, backache, mood swings, fatigue, and bloating – not to mention the practicalities of dealing with a period – it’s safe to say that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a lot to deal with. Add the demands of working on top of all that, and it’s easy to see how both productivity and wellbeing can suffer as a result.
But now, a survey from menstrual care company Yoppie has revealed that 84% of women would be in favour of a legal policy that introduced menstrual leave into UK workplaces. Currently, the law does not stipulate that women who are experiencing severe menstrual symptoms can take time off work – menstrual leave is defined as a ‘sex-specific employment policy’, and is distinct from sick leave.
“The UK continues to fall short of basic employment rights by constantly ignoring the issue of menstrual leave,” says Daniella Peri, founder of Yoppie. “While those nations that already offer some form of leave might not be getting it absolutely right, they’re miles ahead of us.”
In Indonesia, employees are granted two days of menstrual leave each month – similarly, this is seen in the Chinese provinces of Liaoning. And in Zambia, menstrual policy means that women are allowed one day off a month, and employers can be prosecuted if this leave is denied.
“Some will argue that our general sick leave policies are sufficient to cover menstrual leave, but if a woman is having to take a day or two sick leave every month compared to the average of four or five sick days a year, employers may start to look unfavourably on them,” Daniella argues.
“It’s this stigma that causes many to refrain from taking time off work when PMS hits, in fear that they won’t be treated equally against their male counterparts.”
As Daniella sees it, we need to differentiate between unforeseen bouts of sickness and the cyclical nature of PMS symptoms in order to create an equal and accessible workplace. And when you consider the effects of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – a more severe form of PMS which causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts – the question of PMS leave is also a mental healthcare concern.
“Menstrual symptoms are not something that can be ignored – for some women, the pain can be debilitating and the ability to focus on work all but vanishes,” she continues. “We must work to ensure that menstruation is put on the political agenda and discussed at the highest level.
“If we can’t make this happen via the government, we want to empower women to come together and campaign for change in their own workplace, so that we can start to make a change one company at a time.”
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