11.03.2016 | Gloria Lawson | General
Imagine the scenario? You call my office and receive the voicemail: I’m sorry I cannot come to the phone at the moment because I am on PERIOD LEAVE!
I am sure that right now all of you are scratching your heads thinking “SHE’S GONE MAD!”
As one day this week is International Women’s day, I think it topical to deal with this new phenomenon known as menstrual leave.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Menstrual leave is a type of leave where a woman may have the option to take paid or unpaid leave from her employment if she is menstruating and is unable to go to work because of this.Menstrual leave is considered controversial by some because it can be seen as a criticism of women’s work efficiency or as sexism.”
We all know that right from when we start working, we have to plan for everything – from meetings, to time to prepare for projects, etc, etc. However, periods are just something that every woman learns to live with. After all they occur for a large percentage of our working lives. If you’re one of the lucky ones and don’t get the excruciating pain that some people suffer, you just get on with it and think no more of it. However for the unlucky ones who has painful periods, they are punctuated with painkillers, pain so bad it makes them doubled up, dizziness and in some extremes throwing up for the first few days. So the prospect of being able to take period leave maybe something they would applaud? I certainly was one of those who, at its worst, would have me go through the gamut of painkillers – everything from Paracetamol, Neurofen, Mefenamic acid, Co-Codamol , Diclofenac, through to Tranxamic acid. All of this just to function and the able to get through a few days of agony every month. However where work is concerned even if a woman is pale from blood loss, unable to stand up straight and feeling dizzy somehow we still manage to say to ourselves we are not actually ill and we soldier on into work.
Behold the brave new world, or is it? In some countries you can actually already take menstrual leave – even China has this policy in place in some of its provinces. And now – here in the UK this possibility is been discussed. What a triumph for womanhood! What with the suffragettes think? How far we have come? All okay the world has now officially gone bonkers!
Imagine the calls will be able to make in to work: “terribly sorry, can’t make it in today, the flipping painters are in again!” Or better still “so sorry but my uterus is in agony again! And other such shocking statements set to strike dumb many a male manager across the country. Their response will perhaps be soothing words such as “Terribly sorry to hear that! Hope you feel better soon! “ Really? I think not!
The grim reality is this is not how it will go. No boss will want to hear that your reproductive organ is malfunctioning and this condition needs to be treated the same as a virus or the flu or some such common element. What they will no doubt be thinking is she is making a fuss of a totally normal process and taking advantage of this new “duvet day” loophole. Women will now be seen as unreliable, unhealthy and in capable of coping with their working lives like professionals, always needing special consideration. Just imagine the thought of a woman being likely to collapse bleeding to death all over the floor of the office! Men of course would never do this – they will soldier on like Trojans and get the job done. Women may as well head to the back of the queue for promotion or the front of the line for redundancy or the proverbial chop!
The instituting of any policy affecting only women is to me a backward step. Further, one which is centred around what is the most private, personal bodily function of women is even worse, and insensitive to boot! Women should just be regarded as what we are – people! Yes, some of us suffer regular crippling pain every month. We are all still women and yes the pain is caused by periods. Period pain is a condition, which adversely affect some people and not others. Simple as that! Anything else and instituting such a ridiculous intrusive policy such as menstrual leave will do nothing more than throw us right back into the dark ages.
Picture this: occasionally at various points during the month there will be a woman in your office waving a little placard which reads “do not approach – Time of the month!”
Incredibly, the company in Bristol who have decided to give their employees period leave were reported in the Guardian last week as saying “letting women take time off during their menstrual cycle will make the workplace more efficient and creative”. According to them, some people feel “cycle awareness” helps both men and women become more productive at work. Quite frankly I have heard nothing more ludicrous and it’s only see this a totally retrospective step. In an age when there is so much debate about the gender pay gap and trying to make this equal or at best narrowing the gap, to come up with such a segregating policy beggars belief!
What are your thoughts?