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message 1: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
Link: http://www.msn.com/en-nz/money/career...

A Bristol company is planning to create an official “period policy” designed to allow women to take time off without being stigmatised in the hope it will make its workplace more efficient and creative.

Bex Baxter, the director of Coexist, said the move an attempt to synchronise work with the body’s natural cycles.

“I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods. Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell.

“And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain – no matter what kind – they are encouraged to go home. But, for us, we wanted a policy in place which recognises and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.”

Coexist, where 24 of the 31 staff are women, is no ordinary company. It manages Hamilton House in the city’s bohemian Stokes Croft quarter, running the space for artists, activists and community organisations. There is a restaurant called The Canteen, and Banksy’s Mild Mild West mural showing a teddy bear throwing a petrol bomb at riot police greets visitors.

Baxter said: “There is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive – actually it is about synchronising work with the natural cycles of the body.

“For women, one of these is their menstrual cycles. Naturally, when women are having their periods they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies.

The spring section of the cycle immediately after a period is a time when women are actually three times as productive as usual.

“My team here have always been very generous – I’ve been able to take time off when I’ve needed it, but always put it back in again. But until now there haven’t been any formal guidelines.

“For too long there’s been a taboo surrounding periods – I have women staff telling me they’re ashamed to admit they’re in pain. I want us to break down that shame and replace the negativity with positivity. Both men and women have been open to the ideas, especially from the younger generation.

“I was talking to someone the other day and they said if it were men who had periods then this policy would have been brought in sooner.

“It’s not just about taking time off if you feel unwell but about empowering people to be their optimum selves. If you work with your natural rhythms, your creativity and intelligence is more fulfilled. And that’s got to be good for business.”

Baxter and her team plan to formulate the policy as part of a seminar at Hamilton House on 15 March called Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles in the Workplace.

The seminar’s leader, Alexandra Pope, believes “cycle awareness” helps both men and women become more productive at work.

Pope, who describes herself as a women’s leadership coach and educator in the “field of menstruality”, said: “In the past any proposal to allow women to, for example, have time off at menstruation has been derided by men and women alike. In this context menstruation is seen as a liability or a problem. Or as women getting special treatment.

“The purpose of this policy initiative is to create a positive approach to menstruation and the menstrual cycle that empowers women and men and supports the effectiveness and wellbeing of the organisation. To restore the menstrual cycle as the asset it is.”

She says her seminar will “present a radically new model of the menstrual cycle as an asset for your entire organisation”.

The seminar agenda comprises:

Learn how to maximise the wellbeing of all your employees by fostering a positive approach to the menstrual cycle
Create efficiency in the workplace by utilising natural cycles of men and women
Pioneer a ‘period policy’ for your organisation/work-life
Network with other individuals, groups and organisations that want to explore and develop these ideas.

message 2: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 82 comments If it hurts that much every time, then a person ought to see a doctor. Perhaps its endometriosis.

Of course it's good to de-stigmatize menstruation so that women can feel less guilty taking a day off for pain reasons.

I just don't understand why designing a whole "period policy" is necessary or what it all entails, exactly. Some people taking a day off occasionally? Every woman being encouraged to take several days to a week off every month? What if everyone on the same project syncs up, and then all miss work at once and the project is delayed? Do they just have to plan things around their cycles? Cycles are generally unpredictable. You can say it's fine for people to take a period leave but I don't see many women taking up on that offer. They would still fear missing out on crucial work or getting replaced by a woman with a mirena or a man with no uterus. We live in a workaholic culture. Maybe it works for their majority female workplace, but I think it sounds a bit new-agey, or at least not really founded on exact science. A person might be more productive at certain times but there are many other mitigating factors that whether you're in your luteal phase or ovulating or whatnot.
I hope they don't keep track of everyone's cycles in order to track everyone's "peak efficiency" times. That just would be so invasive.

message 3: by Helen (new)

Helen (helen2u) | 305 comments I'm planning to have my own company and this is important and will be noted down.

message 4: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (last edited Mar 03, 2016 12:09AM) (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
Elizabeth wrote: "If it hurts that much every time, then a person ought to see a doctor. Perhaps its endometriosis.

Of course it's good to de-stigmatize menstruation so that women can feel less guilty taking a day ..."

Thank you for input, Elizabeth. ^^

In my own, personal experience, sometimes I cannot walk from my period cramps, but it is not endometriosis or any other "serious" medical condition. My body can just be very extreme at times. I have to take prescription pain killers for my periods because there is nothing else that the doctors can do for me, since I am not technically "ill" or put together wrong. Like I said, my body, and therefore my periods, can be extreme and can be excruciatingly painful (this is on top of a high pain tolerance, but don't take me as trying to sound dire).

The article addresses several reasons why the company is putting this policy in. They do not want woman to feel stigmatized, and there have been woman who feel that taking a few days off because of their period pain is unnecessary and could get themselves in trouble for doing so--you even said that part yourself.

I believe the policy is just to allow woman time off if they need it. Despite my own period troubles, my severe cramps only come every second month, if I am lucky enough.

They would still fear missing out on crucial work or getting replaced by a woman with a mirena or a man with no uterus. The policy that is being put in place, I believe, would mean that the company would not be able to do this without facing a law suit afterwards. Of course the article is missing information and such, but from what I can tell, it is all still a work in progress idea that the company is in the process of developing.

Yes, it may sound new age-y, but are we not in a new age? Are we not in a world where new things are getting introduced, old issues are trying to get addressed and/or fixed?

The fact the seminar is being led by a woman is also a nice touch, since it might make woman more comfortable with the idea in the beginning and help men to understand why this policy is, in my opinion, thoughtful and possibly necessary in some cases.

I apologize is this sounds a bit thrown together, I am just off to bed, so my tired brain is not really smooth-flowing right now. xD

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow...when I read the name of this thread, I wasn't sure if it was really that kind of period, but it is...

Depending on the woman, some may feel relieved to have this kind of policy that lets them take leave instead of having to work while in pain.

But I personally don't think that a policy for periods is needed! If women know that their periods are the very painful kind, then they should feel free to take leave from work. But if not, then they can just ask for leave on a few days during work. They could explain why, but to have a special leave for something that only happens once a month, and that can be painless, doesn't seem necessary. Some people might view it as over-feminism?

message 6: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (last edited Mar 03, 2016 12:37AM) (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
Some people can't take days off every month though, for they could be seen as a liability. I know I couldn't get four days off every month just because I wanted it (because, let us all be honest, would I really go into my office and say I wanted days off because I can't stand the pain I'm in? We all know that is not a good look. "People have had periods for thousands of years, a few days won't kill you!" Literally what I have been told before).

message 7: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
Also, I do not think that the point is that woman would have time off every month, I think it is more directed at if they really need to have time off when things get bad. I do not get my severe cramps every month, I get them every two months on average, somethings everything three months. Otherwise, I can normally handle the pain. But the cramps can also bring things like severe chills and heat flushes, as well as nausea, so you do have to keep in mind that periods are not the same for everyone. Some people do experience a very unpleasant, very draining period, while other people never face any sort of trouble in their entire life span. I think, if nothing else, this is a safety thing for the jobs of woman who are feeling as though they will get fired if they constantly have to take a few days off every month when a male employee who doesn't get a period would not have to take days off. Things like this are what employers take note of, and are what get people fired. This policy could keep woman in their job and protect them from discrimination which ultimately stems from them being woman.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Savannah wrote: " I think, if nothing else, this is a safety thing for the jobs of woman who are feeling as though they will get fired if they constantly have to take a few days off every month when a male employee who doesn't get a period would not have to take days off. Things like this are what employers take note of, and are what get people fired. This policy could keep woman in their job and protect them from discrimination which ultimately stems from them being woman..."

I do agree with that

message 9: by textual (new)

textual silence (textualsilence) | 16 comments Is the company in Bristol paying those who take time off, or will it be unpaid? This alone is a massive issue because no matter the good intentions of those at the top, most working people cannot afford (or feel like they cannot afford) to take time off without pay. Any mention of this in the MSN article?

message 10: by Savannah, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Savannah (dssharris) | 321 comments Mod
Matthew - All the information from the article has been copied into the first post. Maybe if you tried looking up the article on other sites, they would have different/more information?

message 11: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Interesting. I had Mirena, the IUD, for a while, and my period reduced to next to nothing (blood, cramps, etc.). How would this policy treat me? I should be quiet about having an IUD, then take the same number of days off in the name of equality? Because I couldn't blame the period as an excuse to feel unproductive certain days of the month.

If research supports the fact that women's cycle causes varying levels of productivity, I suppose I can't shoot this fact down, and it could be a valid point to support that if she takes a few days off, she'll work more when she's back.

Elizabeth mentioned project management, and I agree with that. How about shift work? There's no replacement the days I'd be off. For instance a hospital couldn't function at all, unless some sort of humongous replacement system is put in place.

Matthew, I assume that since productivity increases once she's back at work, she'd make up for the days "lost", so no need to mess with the paycheck. To me it seemed like the foundation of this whole idea.

message 12: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 82 comments I think this is just like paid sick leave, but with more days of sick leave available? Normally a person with severe periods would use their sick days, except then they'd run out of them pretty quickly if it's a regular thing. It's the same problem for everyone, many people don't even take their sick days for the same reasons. They say it's fine to take a sick day, but people are afraid if they take too many sick days they'll look lazy and get fired. People come to work with contagious diseases, even. In the long run, it's inneficient, but everyone's afraid of losing their jobs. You have to start by convincing people it's fine to take sick days first, before you can even let them think about using sick days for periods.

message 13: by Marzipan (new)

Marzipan Cowley | 10 comments I think this is a step in the right direction to help feminize the working world. The patriarchy has built an understood system that whoever works more is a harder worker and gets more done, but that is a fallacy. Working smarter and taking care of yourself and your body is much more important in productivity than hours put in.

I think it is a great idea and would be interested to see how it can be applied in other areas besides work. I have rather painful periods some cycles but the bigger issue for me is that I find it very hard to be productive when I am on my period and thus get behind in my school work. I suspect it has something to do with the hormones. And a few days before my period I just cry at everything, but I can still be productive as long as I'm not working on paper and no one is offended by me crying.

I know this policy would not work for most companies due to their corporate culture, but for those that do I think they could attract a strong female workforce that will be much more productive than they would be elsewhere. I think it also good that the days aren't labeled as sick days because having periods is not a sickness. Calling them what they are seems to be the best policy.

I think eventually it will lead to better policies around pregnancies and childcare, which would be great for women. I enjoyed reading a case at school about a company that provided childcare in the workplace so women didn't have to worry about finding someone on their own and the company paid the cost. Also, if any trouble arises, the parent is nearby and can quickly come and take care of the child.
Also, as millennials are desiring a more flexible job, one that can be done at home or while traveling, work can start being done anywhere. This means that pregnancy doesn't have to be a burden and that women can have flexibility to stay home when they feel too sick or stay home with their newborn for a couple of months and not be considered a liability for their employer. I haven't experienced pregnancy for myself, so I don't know from experience, but I think it would benefit women who want to have children and not lose their employment or get passed over because they did no work while on maternity leave.

message 14: by Kim (last edited Mar 04, 2016 07:26AM) (new)

Kim | 26 comments In America, many workers don't get separate sick leave. They get about two or three weeks of paid time off, which can be used for vacation or sick days. If a woman had to use some of her paid time off days each month, she would never get to have a vacation. Plus, a lot of women have to use their time off when their kids get sick and can't go to school or daycare.

So, in America, I would like to see more paid time off for people in general to deal with whatever life issues they have - period problems or otherwise.

I might find it embarrassing to discuss having period problems with my boss, especially if my boss is male. In the past, I usually would just say I had stomach flu or something like that. But that won't work every month, so maybe having a period policy in place would help. At least, you couldn't get fired for taking off time for period pain if there was a period policy in place. I don't see a period policy becoming standard in America anytime soon though.

I also had a lot of period pain when I was younger. The pain was similar to having food poisoning. I don't have it as much now that I am older. Usually, the pain was worse the first day or two, so it wasn't a whole week I would need to take off from work. I suppose it depends on how much physical activity your job requires. Luckily, I had a desk job. So, I could go to work when I wasn't feeling all that well and manage okay.

For anyone who has a lot of period pain, try taking Naproxen tablets. It made a huge difference for me once this generic drug became available over the counter in America. It works much better than other pain killers like aspirin for period pain. Take it as soon as you start to feel a little pain. Don't wait for the pain to get bad.

Another option is going on "the pill" (birth control pill), especially a 90-day cycle so that you only have periods 4 times a year. You still get some period pain, but you don't have to deal with it monthly. One brand is called Seasonale.


Certainly, you should have your gynecologist verify there is nothing medically wrong that is causing the pain first though.

message 15: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "I don't see a period policy becoming standard in America anytime soon though."

Considering that there still is not a standard for parental leave when a baby is born, I'm inclined to agree.

As someone who suffers from PMDD, I think this is excellent. There have been times when I've been incapacitated by cramps and related symptoms. Since treatment for the condition, I've been better, but often these kinds of complications aren't taken seriously by doctors ("everyone gets cramps, take an extra ibuprofen"). Not to mention, it took me a long time (I'd estimate over a decade) to realize that what I was going through every month was not normal. I thought I was just a wimp who couldn't handle it and all the other ladies were just stronger than I was! So we also need better education on reproductive health.

message 16: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 05, 2016 12:48AM) (new)

I read in this thread on the first day of its creation and a friend of mine sent me a really interesting article. It mentions other countries in which this policy is already in place. I find it cool to know that in countries that are usually deemed as having fewer rights for women, menstural leave exists.

These countries are offering 'period leave' to women. Seriously. Should India follow suit?

I don't think that there will be a dip in productivity Edit: with the implementation of menstrual leave as I am sure that women who suffer from periods will not be able to work efficiently anyhow. (I have to say I am biased as I think that a 4-day work week leads to more efficient results than a 5-day-work week.) I hope that this policy takes into account people of other genders who also have periods.

message 17: by Claire (new)

Claire Holmes | 1 comments Hi all!
I just saw this thread and am proud to say I actually used to work for this company. At present Coexist does not have a policy in place, they are just starting a discussion about honouring natural cycles in the workplace.
If any of you are interested, I'd encourage you to go along to the event on the 15th March! Not trying to spam - just thought some of you might be interested to hear more or get involved in the ongoing discussion as it is a really interesting one.
There's some more info here for anyone who's keen:
Thanks all!

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