A community and arts centre based in Bristol, south-west England, has become the first employer in Britain to introduce so-called “period leave” for women.
Coexist, which has a largely female workforce, said today that it will offer workers the option of flexible working from home during their monthly menstruation cycle and any time off for the reason would not be classed as sick leave as employees would be allowed to make up for the time lost over the course of the month.
“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. 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,” Bex Baxter, one of the directors at Coexist, told ‘Bristol Post’.
“Nothing like this has been done in the UK before, we believe, and if it has, it has been very small,” she said.
Co-Exist employs 24 people, seven of them men, and the details of the new policy will be worked out as part of a “Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles in the Workplace”, seminar at the centre on March 15.
It is based on the work of Alexandra Pope, the founder and creator of women’s leadership programme at Red School.
The school is base on “a radical new approach to woman’s health and wellbeing; creativity and leadership; and spiritual life based on the power of our menstruality consciousness”.
Baxter believes the scheme will increase productivity and hopes other firms will follow the lead of global sportswear giant Nike and introduce similar policies.
Nike had introduced menstrual leave in 2007 and makes business partners sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure they maintain the company’s standards.
Countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan also have similar policies around menstrual leave for female employees.