Victoria public sector workers to receive paid menstrual leave

Five days of paid leave for those dealing with reproductive symptoms and IVF treatments

Victoria public sector workers to receive paid menstrual leave

Public and community sector workers in Victoria will soon have access to paid menstrual and reproductive leave.

Under a new collective agreement signed by the state’s Treasurer, employees dealing with menstrual pain, menopausal symptoms, and IVF treatments could see an additional five days added to their sick leave entitlement of 10 days.  

The move comes as discussion surrounding paid menstrual leave continues to gain traction, with information about conditions like endometriosis becoming more widely available to the public.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity. This tissue behaves as it would inside the uterus and can cause severe pain with each menstrual cycle.

According to a 2019 survey, women and gender-diverse individuals with endometriosis may require up to four days off per month due to the severity of their symptoms. Meanwhile, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has reported that there were 40,500 endometriosis-related hospitalisations  between 2021 and 2022.

Pushing for policy around menstrual pain

In 2022, a group of Australian union began pushing for a policy that would offer employees suffering from painful menstrual or menopause symptoms up to 12 days of paid leave annually.

Critics said such a policy could create perceptions of inequality in the workplace and cause resentment among those who do not need or qualify for these leaves.

But the small number of Australian organisations with similar policies have reported benefits such as increased productivity and employee engagement, with one firm stating that “women’s engagement rose to a whopping 71%.”

‘Employers have an implicit duty of care’

In an interview with news.com.au, Mary Crooks, CEO at the Victorian Women’s Trust (VWT), said their menstrual leave policy has been beneficial to both the staff and the organisation.

“A lot of office designs reflect the needs of male bodies, in terms of temperature, air-conditioning settings, you name it,” said Crooks.

“Employers have an implicit duty of care that you don’t exploit your staff, you don’t treat people badly. So to me, I see taking account of women’s bodies in their workplace as a very logical and natural extension of our occupational health and safety standards.”

VWT implemented its menstrual and menopause wellbeing policy in 2017.

Last February, Spain became the first European country to mandate paid menstrual leave, as part of broader legislative moves in reproductive and transgender rights. Women and individuals experiencing menstrual pain have been granted up to three days of paid leave each month, extendable to five days.

Similar policies are also in place for Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Zambia, according to a report by UK-based PinkNews.

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