Menstrual Leave; Good Intention, Poor Solution…

Well, January 2021 may have got off to a bit of a rocky start… but there is some good news!

My academic book chapter about the negative impacts of well-meaning ‘menstrual leave’ workplace policies has just been published. It is part of a book about gender mainstreaming in the workplace/ labour policies, edited by Juliet Hazzard and Luis Torres- available to buy here-

The book;

Aligning Perspectives in Gender Mainstreaming

Gender, Health, Safety, and Wellbeing

  • Explores the nature and trends of health inequalities and gender differences in the workplace
  • Outlines the practices and principles underpinning gender sensitive health and safety management
  • Introduces a comprehensive overview of a gender mainstreaming approach

My chapter abstract;

Menstrual leave is an employment policy that allows individuals to take additional paid or unpaid leave from work during menstruation. In recent years, it has been attracting increasing global media and public attention. The motivation behind the promotion of the policy is typically benign, and it is often positioned as being a progressive development in women’s health and rights in the workplace.

This chapter argues that the rationale behind this policy makes several exaggerated and incorrect assumptions about the nature, and prevalence of menstrual cycle-related symptoms in the working population. Moreover, menstrual leave policies could reflect, and contribute to, unhealthy and discriminatory practices against women in the workforce. Indeed, sex-specific employment policies such as menstrual leave can easily, albeit unintentionally, reinforce unhelpful and inaccurate societal myths that position ‘all women’ as weaker, less reliable, or more expensive employees than men.

The chapter thus concludes that in order to support and improve menstrual health and gender equality in the workplace, it is better to focus on the working conditions and rights of all employees, plus access to good quality reproductive health information and medical treatment, if required.

King, S. (2021). Menstrual Leave: Good Intention, Poor Solution. In J. Hassard & L. D. Torres (Eds.), Aligning Perspectives in Gender Mainstreaming (pp. 151–176). Springer International Publishing.


A summary of the content covered in the book chapter is available for free on the Menstrual Matters website- in a 5-part myth-busting blog series!

  1. Menstrual Leave; what lies beneath… Part 1- Origins
  2. Menstrual Leave; what lies beneath; Part 2- Menstrual Health Myths
  3. Menstrual leave; what lies beneath… Part 3 – Sweatshop labour
  4. Menstrual leave; what lies beneath… Part 4- gender inequality
  5. Menstrual leave; what lies beneath; Part 5- Alternatives

Happy New Year!

Research News Tags: Research.

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