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British Company Gives Women Time Off for Menstrual Pain

It not only encourages productivity but also destigmatizes an important women’s health issue.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user eceveryshop

In the United States, politicians and activists have been clamoring to bridge the pay gap between men and women. But what about paid time off? Employers always provide the sexes an equal amount of time off, without considering that women have an additional monthly health issue, their periods.

According to Dr. Howard Smith, director of pain medicine at Albany Medical Center, “More than 40 percent of all American women today suffer monthly with debilitating menstrual cramps ...10 percent of these women are incapacitated for one to three days each month because of excruciating pain.” That’s why it’s exciting news that Coexist, a community interest company in Bristol, England, has decided to address this issue with its employees. The company has implemented a policy that allows women to flex their work hours throughout the month to accommodate their menstrual cycles.

This new policy not only encourages productivity but also destigmatizes an important women’s health issue. “As a manager of staff I have seen women really suffer with their periods and I have found them doubled over in a lot of pain,” Bex Baxter, one of the directors at Coexist, told The Telegraph. “They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it. It started from there, and we thought we had to see what we could do about it and try and break the last great taboo.”

Over the past few years, workplaces have become increasingly flexible, adopting such major changes as the four-day workweek and policies that allow employees to telecommute. Coexist’s new policy could be another step toward improving productivity, permitting employees to organize their schedules around the times when they’re most productive.

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