‘Menstrual leave’: the next workplace perk for women?

by Chloe Taylor04 Dec 2014
Tech giants Apple and Facebook were recently met with mingled criticism and praise after they unveiled plans to provide egg-freezing for employees – but now a leading international doctor has reignited the debate over women’s health benefits in the workplace.

Gedis Grudzinskas, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Harley Street Hospital in London, has claimed that women should be entitled to ‘menstrual leave’ every month – and men should accept it quietly.

He also said that this leave would be separate to women’s sickness entitlements.

“'It's not men who have to get pregnant, go through IVF and childbirth,” he said. “Men will just have to understand.”

Grudzinskas believes that the allowance of this leave “would boost women’s motivation and productivity when they are in the workplace.”

He has even claimed that employers should offer to pay for the terminations of employees’ pregnancies if they become pregnant accidentally – although he admits that “society is unlikely to be ready for that.”

“Some women feel really grotty when menstruating,” Grudzinskas told The Daily Mail. “Coming into work is a struggle and they feel lousy. When you feel like that, it's harder to take pride in your work or perform as well. This is about employers being sensible and aware.”

He said that the leave would not interfere with women’s career progression.

“It would be one to three days each month, separate to sick leave entitlement – it is not sickness, after all,” he said.

The concept of ‘menstrual leave’ is believed to have begun in Japan in the first half of the 20th century – where it remains a recognised workplace policy today.

It is also recognised in other Asian countries, including Indonesia and Taiwan, and has recently been discussed by the Canadian government.

The concept was also put forward to the Russian parliament, where it was met with uproar and immediately rejected.

Related articles:
Egg freezing: pro-equity breakthrough or anti-feminist “devil’s deal”?
Maternity benefits: a workplace taboo?
Baby bump: Parental leave a ‘minefield’ for employers in 2015


  • by Ann-Marie 4/12/2014 12:23:33 PM

    Let's just create another reason to discriminate against women, sorry I think this is just crazy!

  • by Catherine Cahill 4/12/2014 12:32:24 PM

    I have become part of an International program (Days For Girls) which helps women in 3rd World Countries continue to participate in school, work and the community when they are menstruating. Without this practical assistance most currently are compelled to remain isolated in their own rooms/homes. This program has been set up to help them to be freed of the societal assumption that they are incapable of contributing for a number of days every month.

    Many people have worked extremely hard over many decades to assert the right of women to be treated equally in the workplace. One critical issue historically, has been the claim that women are somehow incapable of functioning for a part of every month.

    For most women, this is simply not true.

    I do not want my workplace to assume I am debilitated once a month just because of my gender.

    If it is appropriate to create special leave for on-going medical issues, then it should be open to all who live with chronic illness, chronic pain and/or mental illness.

  • by John 4/12/2014 3:29:46 PM

    Getting an employer to pay for your abortion. I can see that one taking off............not.

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