We've all had those menstrual-cramp-packed mornings when we desperately wish we could just send our boss a email that says, "Period sick day!" and they would simply respond with, "Rest up!" The world we currently live in doesn't exactly work like that, though, but it's still nice to dream (no really, I have actually had that dream).
The issue of menstrual leave has been on our minds for a little while now, especially since NPR named 2015 the Year of the Period. Many believe that, if men had periods, menstrual leave would have been a nationwide practice a long, long time ago. A company in the UK called Coexist, in which 24 out of 31 employees are women, is taking matters into their own hands. They announced in March that they were creating a "period policy" that would allow women to take off work during their period in an attempt to make everyone healthier, as well as more productive.
However, not all women think paid period leave every month is the answer. Some worry that it will actually add to period stigma, that we'll continue to be seen as weak creatures who are merely at the mercy of our monstrous hormones. Others are concerned that male bosses will be inclined to show favor towards the women who decline menstrual leave, viewing them as the admirable ones who truly take their job seriously. Around the world, we can see that implementing the idea isn't always met with success. For example, women in Japan have actually had the option to take menstrual leave for the last seven decades, yet very few opt in for it, largely due to the immense stigma around the issue.
Regardless of whether we can agree on menstrual leave becoming a thing for offices everywhere, we can certainly come together on the sheer fact that being more open our periods can be a useful way to break down the menstrual taboo. Because, as the situation in Japan illustrates, policy can only do so much if we're not changing the way we talk about periods in our everyday interactions.
Here are five reasons you should tell your work you're on your period.
1. You Probably Tell Your Boss When You're Not Feeling Well In Any Other Capacity
You can probably remember the last time you were suffering from a splitting headache and you popped into your boss's office to say, "Hey, I'm feeling under the weather, so I'm going to lay low if you need me." It doesn't necessarily mean you're leaving the office, it just means you're letting them know you're not performing at your highest. Hopefully, they ask if you're OK, tell you to reach out if you need anything, and send you on your way. (And if they don't, seriously consider changing jobs.)