As a female founder, I’d taken it for granted that employees would feel comfortable taking sick leave if they were experiencing severe period pain or choose to work from home if that would be more comfortable for them. However, I realised that without an official policy in place employees might feel like they aren’t able to do this.
We’ve introduced a menstrual policy to make life easier for those who menstruate and be part of the change to normalise the conversation about a natural and inevitable part of life for half of the population. It also contributes to our mission to create a more positive work environment.
Our menstrual policy entitles employees to paid leave for menstruation, menopause and miscarriage, in addition to our existing sick leave entitlements. Lem-uhn employees accrue an additional 10 days of paid personal leave per year for menstruation, menopause discomfort or in the event of a miscarriage. The entitlement is to be used if an employee is suffering from menstrual or menopause symptoms which interfere with their ability to work or in the event they suffer a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. Staff are also able to request to work from where is most comfortable for them, whether that be within the office or from home if needed during their period or due to menopause symptoms.
The Forbidden Topic
Periods and menopause have been forbidden topics in the workplace. More than a third (36%) of people who have periods have lied about the reason for taking time off when it was related to their period due to fear of embarrassment or judgment found Bupa. Furthermore, a third (32%) of men feel it’s unprofessional to talk about periods at work found research by Initial Washroom Hygiene.
A natural part of life for around half the workforce, the stigma around menstrual health needs to be removed. Employees tend to feel more comfortable discussing accepted health conditions, however, six in 10 (60%) people who have periods feel uncomfortable discussing the topic of menstruation with colleagues or managers found research from DPG.
Creating a better work environment
After spending three decades of their working life with the symptoms and taboos around their period while at work, individuals then face those related to menopause. Almost half (44%) experience three or more severe symptoms. Without adjustments at work, this can lead to detrimental consequences reducing the number of wom*n in the workforce. One in ten (10%) menopausal people who are or have been employed during the menopause have left their job due to their symptoms revealed the Menopause And The Workplace report.
Adjustments in the workplace for people experiencing menopause can be as simple as providing a more comfortable space in the office or providing a fan. However, without an open conversation and employees feeling that they can speak to their employer it can lead to disengagement and even people leaving the company.
Happy employees do the best work
Productivity is at the centre of any successful company. Victorian Women’s Trust's research found that offering staff members experiencing menstruation or menopause the option to work flexibly leads to greater productivity and a happier work environment.
We used Victorian Women’s Trust’s Menstrual Workplace Policy insight as inspiration for our policy.