Spain is about to pass a law allowing women suffering from painful periods to take 3 days with a possible extension of two days on presentation of a medical certificate. This would be a first in Europe and in the world. If the initiative is historic in Japan or South Korea, menstrual leave is not paid and is used very little by women. Asking for this leave could put a brake on their career.
In London, no bill of this type is planned, but that does not prevent some employers from thinking about it, or even taking the plunge. Since March 8, the start-up Louis design, which produces eco-responsible office furniture, has offered “menstruating people” the possibility of taking an additional day off every month to “rest during their period”. And this, without medical proof, or loss of salary.
The start-up employs ten employees, with an almost perfect parity. Its objective: to improve the daily lives of female employees whose physical profession, such as that of cabinetmaker, is not compatible with painful menstruation. “ I know that if I feel bad, I could go home without judgment from my colleagues. I come to work in the morning with peace of mind », rejoices Clotilde, 28, production manager.
“Menstrual leave should not normalize menstrual pain”
Not all women see menstrual leave in a good light, even the most feminist. Gaëlle Baldassari, for example, coach and trainer behind the Kiffe ton Cycle movement: “ It's good to slow down and take care of yourself, but it doesn't require stopping completely except when a menstrual cycle is pathological, such as women with endometriosis. In London, we have Social Security. If we suffer from a long-term pathology, we have the possibility of being supported at 100% “. In January, endometriosis, which affects 1 in 10 women, was recognized as a long-term condition (ALD) and was the subject of a national campaign.
Apart from these special cases, periods are often painful because the cycle is “unbalanced” (hormones, deficiency, intense stress, etc.), says the founder of Kiffe ton Cycle. In both cases, there are solutions and they can get help. “Menstrual leave should not normalize menstrual pain “, fears the coach who is increasingly requested by companies for his cycles of conferences on” gynecological autonomy “. Goal ? Enable women to understand their bodies.
The fear of a backlash for women
The generalization of menstrual leave could lead to other perverse effects, according to this feminist, such as more discrimination in hiring and an even more difficult career progression for women within the company. ” We already discriminate against women because of maternity leave, so imagine if we institutionalize menstrual leave! And then, one day per month of additional leave, it is not nothing for a manager or an employer “raises Gaëlle Baldassari.
Just talking about the rules in the company is still an impossible mission in many companies. ” Some HRDs are still very reluctant. They find it difficult to discriminate against male employees, whom they do not consider to be concerned with menstruation “, admits the speaker.
To avoid any backlash, at Louis design, menstrual leave has been thought out down to the smallest detail. ” We got the whole team talking, we let the feelings out “says Thomas Devineaux, 30, CEO. Result of the exchanges? A consent charter signed by all employees, men and women, thus giving their agreement to the implementation of leave, while formalizing the company's progressive values.
This entrepreneur is optimistic: “ If we create a box in a healthy and transparent culture, abuse and discrimination have no place “.
Same story with Clotilde, the production manager: “ At Louis, we trust each other. We have seen women suffer during their periods, and we have found a solution at our level “. And apparently, the initiative convinces beyond the company since the latter would have been contacted by “many companies” interested in this initiative…
In January 2021, La Collective, a cooperative society, was the first employer to test optional menstrual leave with an additional day off for women to deal with possible constraints due to their periods.
For Gaëlle Baldassari, a woman has no reason not to go to work. Louis design also offers the employees concerned, whose “office” work allows them to be flexible, to telecommute.
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