Nike has been offering its employees paid menstrual leave since 2007. (1) A bit shocking right?
In a society where we’re encouraged to hide our tampons and keep the existence of our periods as a dirty shameful little secret, it seems unheard of that a large corporation would not only acknowledge menstruation but appeal to it.
Earlier this year, a community interest firm in Bristol, Co-exist put a similar policy in place. (2) Bex Baxter a director at Coxist explained the rationale, "As a manager of staff I have seen women really suffer with their periods and I have found them doubled over in a lot of pain.
They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it. It started from there and we thought we had to see what we could do about it and try and break the last great taboo.” (2)
Women are no stranger to the painful muscle contractions associated with shedding one's uterine lining (no small task). Aside from the pain experienced during menstruation, noted fluctuations in hormone levels lead to changes in brain chemistry producing a marked influence on women's ability to perform various tasks. (3)
The decision about whether or not menstrual leave should be offered to women remains a matter of opinion at this point. Are severe pain and decreased cognitive function reason enough to miss two days of work each month? In my humble opinion yes.
Cavill R, Eccleston C, Keogh E, Moore DJ. The effects of menstrual-related pain on attentional interference. Pain. 2014.