Research from Western Sydney University found about 40 per cent of women missed a University lecture or a day at school during a three-month period. The idea of ‘period leave’ has gained momentum in Australia in recent times. Japan has offered menstrual leave policies since 1947 and South Korea from 2001.
PR firm, The Atticism made headlines last year when their senior director staff were all moved to 20 hour in-office working weeks with a focus on productivity rather than desk hours. As finalists in the 2017 Mumbrella Comms Con awards for Best PR Employer, Director, Renae Smith, says she is always on the lookout for ways to make working at The Atticism more rewarding and enjoyable, and in late 2017, Renae introduced ‘Red Days;’ paid period leave for all female staff.
“I have always suffered from painful periods, ever since I was 16. For sometimes up to 2 days a month I am almost unable to walk with pain and I have always found it hard to go to work on those days,” Smith said.
“Since starting my own company, I have been able to rest on those days and have appreciated the opportunity to listen to my body when it needs down time. After hiring female staff and hearing about their similar issues, I decided that all women should have this right and we introduced ‘Red Days’.”
Red Days are afforded to full time female staff at The Atticism and although they are not always used each month, they are always made available if they are needed. Staff simply have to message Smith to let her know they’re taking a ‘red day’ and no more explanation is needed. This is not recorded as a sick day and staff are still required to be available via the phone and have access to their laptop for work – but can work from bed with full pay.
Virginia Brown has worked with The Atticism since August 2017 and has taken up the ‘Red Day’ offer on a few occasions. “As many women know, the nausea, cramps and head-spin inducing back pain renders you unable to leave your bed, let alone dressing up, trekking to work and pretending to be your usual sparkly self,” said Brown.