Coexist in Bristol is first UK company to offer "period leave" to its female staff

Woman sleeping in bed
What would you make of your company having a period policy? (Source: Getty)

Discussions surrounding a lady's time of the month can be taboo or uncomfortable, particularly for us Brits.

But Rebecca Baxter, director of Coexist, hopes to change that with a so-called period policy, allowing female staff to take leave during painful periods.

The company is thought to be the first in the UK to implement such a policy. At present, the only worldwide company to include menstrual leave as part of their Code of Conduct is sportswear giant, Nike.

Baxter, 40, wants to extend the acceptable reasons for taking leave but doesn't want to put female employees' natural cycle under the label of 'illness'. It would not be classed as sick leave as employees would be able to make up for time lost over the course of the month.

Of the company's 31 staff, 24 are women and the idea has been well received across the workplace.

As part of the planned policy, staff will be encouraged to talk more openly about their periods, seeking to synchronise their workload with their bodies. Baxter has said this is vital to ensure productive and happy staff, saying that women in their 'spring' phase after their periods can do the work of three women.

Baxter has said if someone is in pain they are encouraged to go home. The policy will provide a more formal outline of practices already taken in listening to female employees.

Not everyone is a fan. One caller to LBC, called the policy "a very convenient girly card". While he was shut down very quickly by another female caller, there is likely to be much friction in spreading the policy further across other businesses.

A Facebook post from Coexist pointed to positive feedback from Stylist readers yesterday, with 80 per cent of 599 voters saying yes to the policy idea. Some 49 per cent of those said yes, it's a great idea while 31 agreed but were unsure how practical it is in the workplace.

The policy will be presented as part of a seminar at Hamilton House, the space managed by Coexist, on 15 March called "Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles in the Workplace".

Alongside Alexandra Pope, women's leadership coach and educator "at the forefront of the emerging new field of menstruality", the company seeks to battle stigma and promote the positives of the policy to businesses and employees in terms of maximising employee wellbeing, productivity and creativity.

City AM Period leave: Go with the flow or more pain for businesses?

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