Charities call for menstrual leave for severe pain

Posted on June 17th, 2022

Following approval by the Spanish government of a draft Bill, which would allow those with painful periods to have three days off a month, charities have called on the UK to introduce menstruation leave.

Studies estimate that four in five women experience menstrual pain. According to the UK charity, Bloody Good Period, 73% of those who menstruate have struggled to do their work in the way they want to because of their period, due to:

  • Low energy (83%).
  • Being in pain (73%).
  • Feeling anxious about leaking (57%).
  • Having to stop work to take or buy pain medication (50%).

Bloody Good Period

Under UK law, those who experience period pain need to use their sick leave for time off work. However, a spokesperson for Bloody Good Period said that, in addition to implementing menstrual leave, more needs to be done by the government, including ‘improving the communications, culture and broader policy around periods in the workplace’ and ‘ensuring employers have an understanding of the range of symptoms someone with painful periods might experience’.

Endometriosis UK

Endometriosis UK provides information and support to those with endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb, grows in other places. The charity’s CEO, Emma Cox, stated:

‘It’s good to see menstrual wellbeing being discussed at government level in Spain. We need to challenge the historic squeamishness and silence around menstrual health and have more open conversations on this issue’.

However, she went on to state:

‘While this measure is well-meaning, a blanket policy risks downplaying the seriousness of symptoms that those with menstrual conditions such as endometriosis, heavy menstrual bleeding and dysmenorrhea (severe period pain) may experience’.

What can employers do?

Employers could:

  • Create an open and supportive workplace, where employees feel comfortable talking about menstrual health.
  • Be legally required to make reasonable adjustments for those employees with severe menstrual health conditions.
  • Consider the approach used for sickness absence related to menstrual health and focus on supporting individuals.

Further information about how to provide support in the workplace can be found at Bloodygoodemployers and Endometriosis UK.

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