The Case for Paid Menstrual Leave
There is a push to make workplaces more equitable, supportive, inclusive, and diverse. This is, in part, due to the Great Resignation, where millions of workers voluntarily quit their jobs to pursue opportunities that fit their needs better. Not only do these employees want better working arrangements, but they're also seeking policies, benefits, and resources that support who they are and how they live.
Take paid menstrual leave, for example. Millions of people menstruate every month, from girls to women to transgender individuals to non-binary people. The physical and mental symptoms can impact their productivity and engagement at work during this time.
Having the option to take time off to tend to symptoms, rest, and recharge could make a huge difference in work quality and satisfaction for people who menstruate. Let's explore paid menstrual leave in more detail and why companies are adopting it.
What Is Paid Menstrual Leave and Why Are Companies Adopting It?
80% of women experience period pain at some point in their life, but for 5% to 10%, that pain is debilitating enough to disrupt life. Paid menstrual leave is the option to take paid time off from work when one is experiencing their menstrual cycle.
Pushing people experiencing menstruation to work through the pain, or worse, not even acknowledging that it's happening, can be counterproductive. It's challenging to complete work tasks and projects to the highest quality when you're going through debilitating physical pain and mental health challenges.
Not only that, workers may end up feeling like their employers don't care about their health and well-being. As a result, they may want to leave the company and explore options with businesses that do support their mental, emotional, and physical health needs.
Spain is the latest country to entitle workers to paid menstrual leave, joining Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia. Unfortunately, only a handful of companies in the U.S., like software company Nuvento, offer paid menstrual leave. But there’s no federal policy in the U.S. for menstrual leave.
Adopting a paid menstrual leave policy can have several benefits. In addition to improving employee retention, this policy could also break down down gender inequity barriers.
Paid Menstrual Leave’s Larger Impact on Resolving Gender Inequity
Women face a variety of inequities in business. For example, although nearly half of sales roles are filled by women, they only make up just under a third of sales manager positions. Women in sales and other leadership positions also cite a lack of advancement opportunities, the gender pay gap, and constantly having their knowledge underestimated by co-workers as some of the top biases they face in the workplace.
(scroll down to read more)
There’s a long way to go in addressing inequities in current business culture, but making the case for paid menstrual leave is a step in the right direction.
However, women aren’t the only people who face inequity in the workplace; paid menstrual leave acknowledges a unique challenge that transgender individuals, non-binary people, and men also experience. This results to a conversation about addressing the bigger picture of gender inequity in the workplace.
The high level of support and comfort individuals who menstruate receive with a paid menstrual leave policy is key to them feeling like they belong in the workplace and empowering them to successfully navigate menstruation.
Tips for Advocating for Paid Menstrual Leave and Other DEI Policies in Your Workplace
Although we need country leaders and government officials to push for paid menstrual leave’s acceptance on a federal level, change often starts with individuals. Workers can play an important role in advocating for paid menstrual leave and other DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies in their workplaces.
Become an expert on paid menstrual leave and other DEI policies
Vying for paid menstrual leave and other DEI policies in your workplace is a noble challenge to take on. But for it to actually happen, you must become an expert on this leave policy. Doing research ahead of time and setting actionable goals will allow you to successfully build workplace equity.
Expertise gives you confidence. And that's exactly what you need to approach management with policy proposals that will persuade them to act. The following practices will help you build your expertise.
- Explore government websites and research that talks about where the U.S. is with paid menstrual leave;
- Dig into research on companies in other countries currently employing a paid menstrual leave policy;
- Work with HR to see how DEI presents itself in the recruitment and hiring process;
- Form an employee resource group around your current DEI policies and those you're fighting for, paid menstrual leave included, and ask an executive or two to be a part of it;
- Educate yourself on DEI challenges people in your workplace face and how to best address them in the workplace;
- Explore any company data available on the people that work there to better understand them .
All of the above will help you gain a greater understanding of paid menstrual leave and DEI, and how they affect the people in your workplace. They will also give you insight into how to best fight for specific policies and support the diverse group of people in your workplace.
Develop good relationships with leadership
As much as you do to fight for paid menstrual leave in your workplace, it's up to leadership to push policies through. So, it's in your best interest to develop good relationships with your leadership team.
Start with your managers and work your way up. Once your relationships with your immediate managers are solidified, start focusing on developing relationships with higher-ups. You could ask for introductions from your management team.
It's also essential to attend company events and specialized outings where company leaders will be. These opportunities are some of the best to have intimate conversations with leaders that sometimes feel untouchable.
There's definitely a case for paid menstrual leave in every company. Menstruation can have a huge impact on the way someone works and how they feel. Not only will leave policies make work in various industries more accessible to women, but they support an overall effort to end gender inequities in the workplace.
Want to stay tuned and read more health tips, self-care and health facts? Subscribe to our newsletter email here.
NannoPad® is a must-have for a healthier period. Super thin and absorbent, NannoPad is developed to help with your menstrual discomfort in a holistic and effective way. See reviews here. Incontinence version NannoDry® is available too!
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.