Should Your Job Provide Paid Menstrual Leave?

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Should women receive paid menstrual leave? For example, Japan has had a menstrual leave policy, the 1947 Labor Standards Law, since the end of World War II such that any women suffering from painful periods or whose job might exacerbate period pain are allowed seirikyuuka (literally “physiological leave”). When the law was written, women were entering the workforce in record numbers, and workplaces like factories, mines and bus stations had little by way of sanitary facilities. The new law, writes researcher Alice J. Dan, was “a symbol for women’s emancipation. It represented their ability to speak openly about their bodies, and to gain social recognition for their role as workers.”

Here, the leave would provide female employees with two days off during their cycle. Some women worry if implemented it would enlarge the pay gap between men and women. Others believe the policy would further the notion that women are not capable of problem solving during that time of the month.

MadameNoire  did an informal survey of women from different professional backgrounds about whether they would like paid menstrual leave. Here are their responses:

“I wouldn’t like it. It’s condescending in a way, like “Oh you’re a woman so you probably need time off since you get crazy during that time of the month.” And it’s another way for employers to discriminate against women. I say if your cramps or menstrual cycle gets that bad then take a sick day, people should be fighting for better maternity leave policies as opposed to paid sick days for a period.” -A. Awuzie, Fashion Journalist

“In all honesty, it’s a very sweet gesture but the only thing I can think of is the blatant inequality[…] I feel that they will hire Billy over Sasha because they will not have to pay Billy to play catch up on the work that he missed. OR, they’ll hire Sasha but not at the rate they had in mind for Billy. Also to accept that week off or that less pay is accepting that you’re you are not equal to a man but inferior.” – T.Daughtry, Fire Prevention

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. I feel like women are already seen by many in the workplace as too delicate or inferior, and this I think would bolster that mentality among men. I think we should be focusing on parental leave for men and women. Women can’t do it all if they’re expected to actually do it all.” – T.J. Raphael, Multi-platform Political Journalist

“Yeah absolutely. It’s frustrating that we’re supposed to appear strong at all times. I used to get such horrible pain as a teen I literally had to stay in bed for days. So I’m sure there are still women who are suffering with those pains. And if anyone should support paid menstrual leave, it’s other women because we sure as hell know men are going to cry and have a hissy fit about it.” J. Bautista, Global Health Coordinator

“I think it is necessary, as long as people do not abuse it. Menstrual cramps vary from woman to woman. Some experience much more pressure and pain than others. It is more beneficial than detrimental. Health first!” F.Harvey, MPH Candidate – New York University

HuffPost Live candidly covered this topic and SkepChick.org founder, Rebecca Watson spoke on the “special treatment” of the policy: “Just by asking the question, ‘Should women get paid menstruation leave?’ biases the listener into saying, ‘Oh, of course not,’ because you’re talking about special treatment!” Do you think your employer should provide paid menstrual leave?

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