This UK company is launching a groundbreaking ‘period policy’. Life might be about to change big time for working women

woman on a building site workplace
Elizabeth Mizon

Bristol’s community events company Coexist has become perhaps the first in Britain to allow women to work flexibly around their menstrual cycles, and it’s getting national coverage.

Coexist director Rebecca Baxter will implement a policy that allows women to take time off during the most painful part of their cycles – known as ‘the drop’. It’s a move that makes a significant break from the rigid – and outdated – work/life parameters that have long lacked a recognition of value for workers’ time, family life and individual experience.

Baxter spoke to The Canary and explained that over and above a specifically feminist policy, the idea is part of the company’s wish for a general respect of all natural cycles. She gave the example of Hamilton House’s events calendar: rather than having to meet arbitrary deadlines for events every month at the popular community hub that Coexist runs, it make sense to recognise the natural footfall that depends on the weather and seasons.

She also mentioned the circadian rhythms of men (the 24-hour wake/sleep cycle which regulate eg brain wave activity, hormone production, and cell regeneration) that require attention, and that while it might be tempting to criticise or dumb down this latest move as the mainstream media is wont to do, it’s part of a much wider need to respect the experience of all individuals.

This is a progressive approach that rings true with other aspects of our lives; an approach that values life rather than profits that should be applied to everything from the energy industry to the health industry to the economy.

Baxter explained to the Telegraph that this is not simply an expectation that women will do less work overall, but rather a fuller understanding of their lived experience – immediately after their periods women’s productivity increases by three times, at which point they can make up work missed during any time off.

No other UK company has yet been known to have this policy, but the BBC reports that it’s standard practice in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and parts of China.

Image via University of Salford/Flickr

Get involved!

To find out more about Alexandra Pope and menstruality, visit the Red School website.

An event to discuss the new policy will take place in March at Hamilton House, the central Bristol community complex that Coexist manages. It will be led by educator and women’s leadership coach, Alexandra Pope. Buy tickets for the half-day workshop at Hamilton House, Bristol, on March 15th.

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