‘Menstrual leave’: the next workplace perk for women?

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Tech giants Apple and Facebook were recently met with mingled criticism and praise after they unveiled plans to provide egg-freezing for employees – but now a leading international doctor has reignited the debate over women’s health benefits in the workplace.

Gedis Grudzinskas, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Harley Street Hospital in London, has claimed that women should be entitled to ‘menstrual leave’ every month – and men should accept it quietly.

He also said that this leave would be separate to women’s sickness entitlements.

“'It's not men who have to get pregnant, go through IVF and childbirth,” he said. “Men will just have to understand.”

Grudzinskas believes that the allowance of this leave “would boost women’s motivation and productivity when they are in the workplace.”

He has even claimed that employers should offer to pay for the terminations of employees’ pregnancies if they become pregnant accidentally – although he admits that “society is unlikely to be ready for that.”

“Some women feel really grotty when menstruating,” Grudzinskas told The Daily Mail. “Coming into work is a struggle and they feel lousy. When you feel like that, it's harder to take pride in your work or perform as well. This is about employers being sensible and aware.”

He said that the leave would not interfere with women’s career progression.

“It would be one to three days each month, separate to sick leave entitlement – it is not sickness, after all,” he said.

The concept of ‘menstrual leave’ is believed to have begun in Japan in the first half of the 20th century – where it remains a recognised workplace policy today.

It is also recognised in other Asian countries, including Indonesia and Taiwan, and has recently been discussed by the Canadian government.

The concept was also put forward to the Russian parliament, where it was met with uproar and immediately rejected. 
  • Lynda Mathieson on 5/12/2014 3:36:29 p.m.

    You have got to be kidding... Don't get me wrong, I am fully sympathetic to any female who suffers during their menstruation and I absolutely support if they need to take additional leave to cope. But, to make 'menstrual leave' policy would not be practical for any business owner. Gedis Grudzinskas is an expert in his field, however his suggestion lacks thoroughness in terms of logistics... I guess if all the females took a regulating pill to ensure they all went through menstruation at the same time, the business could have a 3 day shut down each month, or maybe even regulate menstruation to begin over the weekend...

  • Helena on 4/12/2014 1:29:05 p.m.

    Making a policy to allow paid time off (or any time off) for menstrual leave will inevitably lead to employers (men and women) discriminating against women in the selection process due to the perceived loss of productivity - where in reality, MANY if not the majority of women, just pop a pill and get on with it!

  • Amanda Sterling on 4/12/2014 1:14:19 p.m.

    Seriously? If your menstruation is so unpleasant that you need to take leave for it then you've got bigger problems. Yes, a handful of women suffer from such debilitating periods that this might be a good option for them. But, for the majority, much of the issues here can be traced back to stress and environmental conditions. There is a whole load of research on this but it's just easier to slap a pill or a panacea on it. How about looking at the workplace environment for a start?

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