“I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods,” said Coexist director Bex Baxter.
“Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell and this is unfair,” she continued.
“At Coexist, we are very understanding,” she stressed. “If someone is in pain – no matter what kind – they are encouraged to go home.”
Despite the company’s understanding culture, Baxter says she wanted to introduce a specific policy that recognised periods as a natural cycle, rather than identifying them as an “illness”.
While it’s partly an effort to combat stigma around the subject and destroy the taboo of periods, Baxter insists the move is also a savvy business decision.
“There is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive – actually it is about synchronising work with the natural cycles of the body,” she said.
Baxter explained that when women are in having their periods, they are in a “winter state,” where they need to “regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies”.
But she says that when women enter the “spring section” immediately after a period, they’re actually three times more productive than usual.
The Bristol-based social community group has a workforce of 31 employees – seven of which are male – and Baxter says the initiative has been welcomed warmly by both genders.
Although initiatives such as this one may sound rare, they’re actually nothing new – menstrual leave began in Japan as early at 1947 and other countries including Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan all have specific laws in place allowing women to take time off while they’re on their period.
Some large corporations are also catching on with sportswear giant Nike including menstrual leave as part of their code of conduct.
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A UK company is launching an innovative “period policy” in the hope it will tap into female workers’ “natural rhythms” and create a happier, more productive work environment.