Tuesday, June 6

If your period hurts, a day off: more and more companies include menstruation in work flexibility

The video game platform GOG has recently decided to offer its employees an additional day off per quarter if they have menstrual cramps that make it difficult for them to work. This extra day can be taken in its entirety or divided by hours over several days. The promoters of this policy in the Polish company point out that labor flexibility and the inclusion of women in the labor market is also accepting that there are biological differences between workers, so mechanisms must be foreseen that protect them from situations that only affect them, according to Axios.

A measure that goes further. GOG has been the last to join this policy, but the measure has a long history in some Asian countries such as Japan or South Korea, and in Spain the Girona City Council approved in June 2021 that all its workers enjoy a sick leave due to period.

In the case of the Catalan consistory, workers can be absent up to eight hours a month spread over several days, although employees must make up for them within a maximum period of three months. The GOG license, on the other hand, is paid and without the need to recover the hours.

Girona, pioneer. With his initiative, the Girona City Council became the first in Spain to offer this menstrual permit, although shortly after the example spread and other towns such as Castellón de la Plana or Ripoll joined.

No country of the European Union contemplates in its labor legislation this type of permits. Italy took the proposal to its parliament in 2017, but the initiative did not go ahead. In this way, the Spanish municipalities mentioned above are not only pioneers in Spain, but also in Europe.

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Asia is ahead. In Asia, however, this permission is much more widespread and in some cases, such as Japan, it has been established by law for more than half a century. In the country of the rising sun, women have been entitled to menstrual permits since 1947, in South Korea since 2001 and in Taiwan since 2014, according to CNN.

In China, for its part, there is no national legislation in this regard, but it has already been stipulated by the regional governments of the provinces of Shabxi, Hubei and Liaoning, and it is expected that it will be extended to others soon.

Companies. As for companies, one of the pioneers of this measure in the West was the British company Coexit, which in 2016 already implemented this policy, to which GOG is now joining. Other companies that also offer it are the Australian Modibodi, the Canadian Diva Cup or the Indian Zomato. In Spain we are not aware that any private organization offers it.

A controversial move. Despite the fact that it is a measure aimed at protecting women and adapting their working conditions to their biological characteristics, the policy has not always been viewed favorably by female workers. In Japan, for example, although it is a right, female employees try not to avail themselves of it as much as possible, since they consider that it can make them less competitive with respect to their male colleagues and harm their professional career.

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In other cases, such as when Coexit announced the implementation of this policy, there were those who said that it was a counterproductive measure for women, because it went against the fight for equality and made them look weak compared to their male colleagues, according to the Time magazine. In this case, the question was also raised as to whether work is still a place primarily designed for men and, therefore, whether it is necessary to take measures of this type to adapt it to female workers.

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The pain. According to the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG), 75% of women have had a menstrual period so painful that it has not allowed them to continue with their activities, and 20% of them have suffered incapacitating pain derived from endometriosis.

Another study, this time from the Netherlands and published in the British Medical Journal, found that 14% of women had had to take time off work or study during their menstruation. Others reported that they had continued to work despite the pain, which inevitably led to a decline in their performance. In the latter case, the researchers estimated that continuing to carry out their work while suffering from inconveniences derived from the rule would have meant a loss of 8.9 days of productivity per employee per year.

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