ADDRESSING MENSTRUATION IN THE WORKPLACE
French supermarket giant Carrefour just announced it would allow female employees to take days off if they suffer from endometriosis, a medical condition that can cause excessive period cramps. Three days will also be granted to employees in the event of miscarriage, as well as one day in the event of implantation of an embryo in the context of medically assisted procreation (PMA).
The move is the latest to allow women extra time off in a country where paid menstrual leave still depends on the individual initiative of employers while a growing movement is asking more companies and collectivities to introduce this benefit. A few French SME such as La Collective or Louis Design already have, although the results of their first experimentations are mixed. The municipality of Saint-Ouen, north of Paris became the first municipality in France to allow women two days off per month if they suffer from conditions linked to their menstrual cycles, including endometriosis.
One in ten women worldwide suffer from endometriosis, a chronic disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the womb.
And beyond France, some other countries are already going further when it comes to defend women rights at work. In February, Spain became the first European country to adopt legislation allowing for paid menstrual leave. In fact, menstrual leave has existed around the world for centuries. The Soviet Union, for example, introduced it as a national policy in 1922. Japan followed in 1947. And similar laws exist in Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Zambia, even if applied to varying degrees and days off are not always remunerated.
By recognizing and supporting the health needs of women at work, menstrual leave has the potential to create various benefits for both employees and employers, such as improved health and well-being, greater productivity, improved workplace culture, increased gender equality, positive branding and even reduced costs. Has your company already tried to consider it as a future option?