What’s Wrong (or Right) About Workplace Menstrual Leave Policies

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From the University of Sydney, this news of a working group studying workplace menstrual leave policies:

[R]esearchers found in a forthcoming paper that 17 countries have implemented or are considering menstrual policies, with Australian businesses leading the way.

“Despite this progress, we are still failing to address menstruation at the policy level. This affects gender equality and could undermine Australia’s obligations to respect and protect women’s human rights. These policies could help make menstruation and menopause a normal part of workplace life,” Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill from the Department of Political Economy said.

The Victorian Women’s Trust introduced a menstrual leave policy in 2017, allowing employees to work from home or claim paid leave for menstruation or menopause. Organisations in the private sector including Future Super and Modibodi have since followed suit and introduced similar policies.

But some feminists argue that menstrual leave policies can push gender equality backwards.

“Menstrual leave can be a polarising issue for organisations and feminists alike. Many argue such policies can exacerbate gender discrimination and reinforce harmful stereotypes that women are physically weak and less capable while menstruating,” Professor Marian Baird from the University of Sydney Business School said.

“We shouldn’t write off a policy solution such as menstrual and menopause leave but it does need to be designed very carefully and in an inclusive way. Rather than dismissing the policy, we need to have a respectful and open debate about how women’s reproductive health needs can be accommodated in the workplace.”

The full news release is here.

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