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Australia Is Emerging As A Global Leader In Offering Staff Menstrual Leave

Stewart Perrie

Published 

Australia Is Emerging As A Global Leader In Offering Staff Menstrual Leave

Australia is emerging as a global leader in employers offering staff menstrual leave.

University of Sydney researchers have found there are just 17 countries in the world where companies have or are considering introducing workplace policies to accomodate women dealing with menstruation.

The Victorian Women's Trust brought in a policy back in 2017 that allowed staff to work from home if they were suffering from the symptoms of menstruation.

They were also able to claim paid leave for menstruation or menopause. Similar policies have since been brought into the private sector at places like Future Super and Modibodi.

The university's research associate Sydney Colussi said in a statement about their research: "It's no secret that COVID-19 turned the working world upside down.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"Underscoring the conversations about work from home policies and physical distancing is a rising awareness of workers' needs, such as the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.

"We need to include menstrual and reproductive healthcare as part of this conversation. Girls are taught from a young age that periods are a private, sometimes shameful issue. But these old attitudes must change if our workplaces are to be productive and inclusive."

"One of the reasons why companies are engaging with this policy space is because they argue that menstruation is not an illness and that workers should not have to be penalised by having to deplete their sick leave."

Young employees find this to be an important factor when they're looking for a new place to work.

Ms Colussi added to ABC Radio Sydney: "What we're hearing at least anecdotally from younger women in the workplace is that they want these policies considered as part of an open and respectful debate about how we can better support reproductive health and wellbeing at work."

However, while the policy is progressive and massively beneficial to women across the country, there is a dark underbelly to it. Some have issued a concern that it could cause an increase in gender discrimination.

Professor Marian Baird from the University of Sydney Business School said it could cause employers to pick male applicants so they don't have to deal with menstrual leave.

"Many argue such policies can exacerbate gender discrimination and reinforce harmful stereotypes that women are physically weak and less capable while menstruating," she said.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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