This UK Company Is Offering Paid "Period Leave"

A small company in the United Kingdom is offering female employees paid "period leave," in what might be the first company policy of its kind.

The company, Coexist, is permitting women to take menstrual leave with compensation. The policy is not mandatory but was put in place to help female employees cope with uncomfortable symptoms of menstruation like cramping.

"They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it," said Bex Baxter, a director of Coexist in an interview. "And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain — no matter what kind — they are encouraged to go home."

Coexist operates as an event venue for musicians and artists and is female-dominated in staff, currently employing 24 women and 7 men.

Baxter explained when women are having their periods they need to "regroup, keep warm, and nourish their bodies."

But her experience managing female staff proves quite the opposite was happening. "I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods," she said. Critics have pointed to other companies, which have listed menstrual leave in their company's code of conduct.

In 2007, Nike introduced menstrual leave and makes business partners sign a memo of understanding to maintain the company's standards.

Baxter pointed out there's a misconception that employees taking time off means a business becomes less productive. She claims women are three times more productive immediately after their period.

But not everyone agrees that this new policy is cause for celebration.

"It doesn't matter if women taking the leave actually are less productive or hard-working; there's still a problem if they’re perceived as such," writes Abi Wilkinson in the tech and lifestyle site Gadgette. "It's stigmatizing and patronizing to treat a normal aspect of female biology as if it’s some kind of disability."

So what do you think about this new period policy? Does it advance women in the workforce? Jump in on the conversation in the comments below or on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

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