Thursday, February 10, 2005

Menstrual Leave

Menstrual leave:

Providing female car workers with paid menstrual leave would improve a company's productivity and quality, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) secretary Doug Cameron said.

Production line jobs were tough on some women during their monthly cycle and their problems should be recognised, he said.

A claim for 12 days menstrual leave a year for women is one of 600 improvements being sought by the AMWU from carmaker Toyota.

Take it or leave it?

(via feministe)


At 7:34 AM, Blogger Laurel said...

that sounds like a really terrible idea. on the one hand, PMS is annoying, and I know that for some people it can be incapacitating; and I generally don't want to argue with people who want to arrange for more time off and more allowances for people's issues and frustrations. But to say that women should be able to get 12 days of menstrual leave just makes women less valuable employees, and encourages the idea that we can't make decisions or get work done during our periods (an idea, by the way, which people have used as a serious argument against having a woman as president). I don't think female auto workers need more people to be suspicious of their abilities or toughness. The real problem is that our economy is organized so inhumanely that this proposal actually sounds like a good idea.

In other menstrual issues, do you have any opinions on the Keeper/Diva Cup? I use it (first the Keeper, then when I misplaced that the Diva Cup) and think it's the best thing ever. I'm also not being paid by the company that makes them to say so. I wish more people knew about it.

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds an appalling idea. There's no reason to need time off work simply because you're menstruating (incidently how would it apply to women who had fewer or no periods, because they were post-menopause,used continuous contraception, or whatever reason. Would women have to declare their "menstrual status" to their employer?)

If women suffer problems like pain, depression symptoms etc when they have their period, why can't that be treated as though it was anyone, male or female, suffering from those symptoms. If you're too ill to work, then you're too ill to work. It doesn't matter whether or not you're having your period at the time!

At 4:50 AM, Blogger ema said...


Here's a post I did on tampon alternatives. I haven't seen any studies on menstrual cups, so I don't know that much about their safety/efficacy. But, since they offer women an alternative to tampons, I do think they're a good idea.

north, anon,

Agree. There's no reason to suffer "in silence"; period-related problems can, and should, be treated. And sick days should be for illness, period.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Laurel said...

The problem is that, ideally, people would have enough options for sick days and time off that if they had relatively minor chronic health problems (say, the kind that make work impractical for about 10 days a year, in addition to sick days for colds, flus, etc) their jobs should be able to work around that. Really, one day a month when you can't come to work because of your PMS or tendonitis or back pain or whatever is not so bad, and doesn't, or shouldn't, make you a bad employee. Our economy and labor practices don't reflect that. It sounds like Australia's don't either.

on menstrual alternatives: I hadn't known about Gynotex, but it sounds kind of similar to the sea sponges people use. The few people I know who've used Instead have mostly found it hard to use and kind of, um, spotty; everyone I know who has the Keeper loves it, though I know at least one person for whom neither size fit. One advantage that I didn't think of before I got it is that you don't ever have that moment of needing to change your tampon or pad and having forgotten to pack a spare. It's very convenient.

The thing I wonder about is safety: I routinely leave mine in for a long time (24 hours when I'm backpacking) and trust that "no reported cases of TSS" is because of lower risk rather than just lower rates of use. I was hoping you might have seen studies on that, but I guess not.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger ema said...


While researching my book, I did review the menstrual TSS studies; no mention of cup-related TSS (not even a case a report). So, in the "no news is good news" sense, the fact that I haven't seen any studies is good news. [Unfortunately, there's no way to tell if it's because cups are safer.]

I don't have any hard data, so this is just an informed opinion: routinely + 24 hrs + while backpacking = a bit of a risky combination.

At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this request is more reasonable than it seems on its face.

Using "regular" medical leave might suffice, however there are limits at this employer on what acceptable medical leave IS. There have been punishments and reprimands for women who have taken time off for difficulties with menstrual cycles.

The union asks the employer to recognize production line jobs were tough on *some* women during their monthly cycle - many of the female workers had complained that they suffered excessive cramps, headaches and nausea which meant they could not concentrate.
Per the spokesman: "It's a tough, hot dangerous job and we believe that this is a sensible claim that's good for the company because it will improve productivity, it will improve quality and it will improve health and safety."

The employer has heretofore insisted that taking any time off for difficult periods is slacking.

The issue of the really heavy bleeding that can occur as a woman ages isn't even mentioned. PMS isn't the only thing about menstruatio that gets worse with time. I'm 42...and unless I got an ablation, I could never deal with my period on a production line. As it is I don't even want to go to the grocery store.

The truth is, menstruation is a liability that gets in women's way moreso than other "natural bodily functions" like needing to eat or use the restroom...
A little accomodation for nature might well make everybody, including the employer, better off.

At 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem here is that too little is understood about the female menstrual cycle and its associated disorders. Women who suffer from seriously debilitating effects of menstruation related disorders are often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, untreated, or incorrectly treated. Those women who suffer from chronic menstruation related conditions tend to feel justified in asking for accommodations just as they would if they had any other chronic condition, but the medical field does not provide them with the same recognition and recourse that is typically provided to patients who suffer from other chronic illnesses. Instead of performing much needed medical research, we want to save time and money by providing accommodations for all menstruation as though menstruation, and not menstruation related illnesses, were the condition responsible for the poor health of some menstruating women. Women don't need menstrual leave. They need doctors who can adequately diagnose and treat menstruation related conditions so that they can take time off as directed by a doctor (just as they would for any illness) and then actually correct the problem or, if no cure exists, work with a doctor to devise a long-term treatment plan designed to increase productivity and quality of life. I am a woman who suffers from some unknown condition that can't seem to be diagnosed, and is yet very real and, at times, completely incapacitating. I don't want time off for my periods - especially at the risk of making women seem like inferior workers. I want the medical community to take me seriously, figure out what's wrong with me, and then treat or cure it so that I can get back to work!


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