New research finds that over four in five women are in favour of PMS leave policies becoming a legal requirement in the workplace.
Data by Yoppie, a personalised period care company, reveals that female employees are largely in favour of introducing workplace policies which would allow staff to take time off when dealing with pre-menstrual syndrome.
According to the NHS, pre-menstrual syndrome can include a wide variety of symptoms including mood swings, stomach pain or cramps, trouble sleeping and headaches.
Despite PMS affecting the majority of women in some form, around 96 per cent reported that their workplace does not have any policies in place to give staff leave.
In addition, at present, UK employment law does not dictate that women who are experiencing severe symptoms can take menstrual leave.
However, many female staff have expressed that they do wish to see these policies become a legal requirement at work.
Specifically, over four in five women (84 per cent) stated that they are in favour of introducing PMS leave policies and having this enshrined in law.
Previous research from Yoppie showed that over a quarter of women (26 per cent) were concerned that their period pains or PMS symptoms will not be considered a legitimate illness and, therefore, not a good enough reason to miss work.
Daniella Peri, Founder of Yoppie, warned that current measures do not extend far enough and could leave female staff viewed unfavourably by their employers:
The UK continues to fall short of basic employment rights by constantly ignoring the issue of menstrual leave. While those nations that already offer some form of leave might not be getting it absolutely right, they’re miles ahead of us.
Some will argue that our general sick leave policies are sufficient to cover menstrual leave, but if a woman is having to take a day or two sick leave every month compared to the average of four or five sick days a year, employers may start to look unfavourably on them.
It’s this stigma that causes many to refrain from taking time off work when PMS hits in fear that they won’t be treated equally against their male counterparts.
Sarah Evans, Partner at Constantine Law, stated:
There seem to be a few schools of thought on what PMS leave could look like, and whether it’s a good idea. Since the dawn of womankind, we have had periods.
And for many women they hurt, a lot, for a couple of days. Not everyone is bent double with the pain, but any severe pain is distracting to say the least, and we perhaps would not think twice about considering a colleague unfit for work if he/ she was in significant pain caused by something unrelated to gender.
It does not seem unreasonable that as 40 per cent of the workforce in the UK are women, who have periods, accommodation should not be made without any backlash or, as is oft quoted reservation, the risk of furthering gender stereotypes of women being weaker, less committed to careers and at greater risk of discrimination because employers may choose not to employ women if they have to “give” a couple of days a month maximum paid or other leave from time to time.
Unfortunately though, that’s the reality and until genuine equality materialises, it may be best to incorporate PMS leave as part of sick leave whilst ensuring that accumulated PMS days do not trigger disciplinary sanctions – we already do this with disability related absence which is, or should be, discounted for disciplinary purposes.
As ever, clever and modern employers will consider what’s best for business, which usually translates into what’s best for the people who make us the money? We know that and creating cultures of trust and respect drive efficiency and loyalty. Our HR colleagues have the know how to create and enforce procedures to monitor absences and those who abuse leave entitlement.
The best place to start is to ask the women you employ “What do you think?”