Women offered ‘period leave’ by British firm

© Ale Ventura
A British company is thought to be the first in the county to allow women to take leave during their period as part of its “period policy,” aimed at making the pain of the menstrual cycle easier for its employees.

Bristol-based firm Coexist says it wants to “tap into its employees’ natural cycle to create a happier and healthier working environment.”

The company, which has 17 female members of staff and only seven male, will allow women to be more flexible with their working hours during their period, and any time off will not be treated as sick leave.

Bex Baxter, one of the directors at Coexist, said: “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.

“Nothing like this has been done in the UK before, we believe, and if it has, it has been very small.”

Baxter says she hopes the policy will actually increase productivity, and set a precedent for companies across Britain.

“Many companies are male-dominated and encourage long hours, but there is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive,” she said.

“This is not about employees taking more time off, but working more flexibly and efficiently around their menstrual cycle and encouraging a work-life balance.”

She explained that women are naturally more productive after their periods, and less productive while menstruating.

“When women are having their periods they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies.The spring section of the cycle, immediately after a period, is a time when women are actually three times as productive as usual.”

The policy is part of the Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles In The Workplace seminar, which will be held later in March. The policy is based on the work of Alexandra Pope, who created the Red School women’s leadership program.

Baxter added: “It seemed a great opportunity to host an event for other businesses, which can launch their own conversation about it.