Harve Linder in The Washington Post: Why some companies are offering time off for periods

Culhane Meadows’ Atlanta partner, Harve Linder, was recently quoted in an article by The Washington Post about paid menstrual leave and why some companies are offering time off for periods.

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

The job descriptions at Chani, a queer- and feminist-led company that makes a popular astrology app, list a variety of perks to entice potential employees: salaries starting at $80,000 a year, an annual tech stipend, a nice 401(k) match and four months of paid parental leave. The Los Angeles-based company also offers a more unusual benefit: “unlimited menstrual leave for people with uteruses.”

The policy is one example of a growing push to eliminate the taboo around periods and recognize the physical discomforts menstruation can cause. “It’s incredibly painful to have a uterus, and yet, from a young age, we’re taught to push through this pain and keep working,” said Sonya Passi, the company’s CEO.

Menstrual leave isn’t common in the United States, but it exists elsewhere around the globe: Spain is about to become the first Western country to offer menstrual leave, allowing women with severe pain to stay home three days per month. And such policies have long existed in countries including Japan, China, Indonesia and Zambia. But, U.S. legal and labor experts noted, it’s a complicated issue with many possible ramifications.

Harvey R. Linder, a labor and employment attorney with Culhane Meadows in Atlanta who advises companies on civil rights compliance issues, said he would advise companies against instituting a menstrual leave policy at this point. “I think it’s fraught with more problems than it solves,” he said.

Linder worries that people who tap into menstrual leave might experience retaliation, such as being overlooked for a promotion, because they’ve missed more days than their non-menstruating colleagues. “There may not even be discrimination or retaliation against the female for the promotion, but she’s going to believe that, and she’s going to be demoralized,” he said. Or morale might drop among those not entitled to extra leave time.

Plus, “it’s more time off for employees, so the cost of production increases,” he said.

If you’re a manager considering implementing a menstrual leave policy, start by asking your team members what they want, advised Sarah Saska, co-founder and CEO of Feminuity, a Toronto-based consulting firm that specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion. Her company offers an annual stipend to help workers lessen the financial burden of menstruation and menopause. It can be used, for example, on menstrual cups or reusable pads, or on hormone treatment or cooling products for hot flashes.

Employers that choose to implement a menstrual leave policy should make sure that menstrual discrimination is added to their anti-discrimination policies, she said. It’s also important to consider privacy. Some companies code menstrual leave as a sick day, for example, which can help encourage workers to take advantage of the time off and can be a safety factor for trans men who are still menstruating.

Giving all workers sufficient sick leave is crucial, she added. In fact, if companies have generous leave policies, designating extra days for menstrual-related reasons may not even be necessary as long as employees “understand that caring for themselves during your period would count.”

Read their entire article HERE to learn more.


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