How Would You Feel About Getting Extra Sick Days For Your Period?Andrea Greb

A Russian lawmaker is advocating that women get an extra two days off each month during their period. While some of his arguments (that women are in so much pain during their period that they need to call an ambulance) are a little absurd, overall, this seems like kind of an awesome idea to me. As someone who’s had those days where you wake up tired and bloated, where the Advil you took for your cramps just doesn’t seem to be kicking in, and the idea of facing a day at work is just overwhelming, I’d like the option to just not have to go, consequence-free. If I had a Congressperson, I’d probably be writing to them to suggest that we legislate for this in the U.S.

Other people are taking issue with this idea, saying it implies women are less capable, but I don’t think this is true. Women are certainly equal to men, but there are biological realities that mean we don’t have the same experiences.  The fact of the matter is that a few days out of the month, I am going to be experiencing some discomfort that simply doesn’t affect my male coworkers. I don’t think offering me a chance to stay home is insulting, I think it’s respecting that experience. I know people are going to tell me that menstruation is a joy and I should be celebrating this wonderful aspect of the feminine experience, but honestly, I really fail to see the fun in bleeding and being in mild pain a few days a month. It’s not that I can’t perform my job under those conditions, but I wouldn’t hate it if I didn’t have to.

People also see this as a move by conservative politicians to remind everyone that women are the supposedly weaker sex. I can’t speak to the motivation of Russian politicians, but I can argue the opposite side of this. Maybe the reason that we don’t already have extra sick days is that male politicians have always been the ones in power. Sick leave policies were written with men’s needs in mind and didn’t bother to take into account that women might need something a little different. If the tables were suddenly turned and men were the ones who had to deal with having their period, I can’t help but think not only would they get more sick days, they’d also find a way to get health insurance to cover the cost of tampons.

I can also see the argument that women getting extra sick days might seem unfair to men. If that’s the case, let’s consider this extra leave a celebration of fertility. Guys can also accrue the hours, to be applied toward their paternity leave should they have a child. Also, I don’t think these extra days off should be mandatory; I just want them to be available. If women are insulted by the idea that they might want to take time off, they can make up the extra hours another time, or just decline the option to use them.

What do you think? Is paid sick leave for your period something we should have started asking for years ago, or does it totally undermine women’s equality? Would you use the extra days if your company offered them?

Image via Shutterstock

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  2. This idea is terrible!!! Lets set women back another 50 years! Sure lets just give our workplaces more reasons to 1. Pay us less. 2. Discriminate against us (even more) when hiring. 3. Lose respect for us in the workplace.

    If women want equality then that means equality. I have terrible cramps too but as a professional (independent of gender) I have to go to work and be the professional they need.

    I used to take heavy duty meds from the doc to help my periods when I honestly couldn’t move. However I knew that wasn’t sustainable so I’ve made positive changes in my life like exercise and healthy eating which has pretty much halved my pain.

    Im not saying that this can work for everyone, but if it’s so bad you can’t work then you need to get yourself checked. Part of being a responsible adult is making sure you can take care of yourself and the tasks assigned to you.

  3. I think this is an AMAZING idea because I have unbearable periods, it’s not like a need to call an ambulance kind of pain like the Russian lawmaker said but its pretty damn close!!!!!! I am unable to move and I have to stay curled in a ball all day and that doesn’t even help the pain, no pain killer will get rid of them either. Lucky this only happens on the first day of my period and as of now I don’t have a job to worry about going to when I’m in so much pain. Although I don’t have a job I need to go to, I had school (I just graduated). Due to so much pain I would have to miss at least a day of school every month and school would be easier to handle going to during a hell of a period then work would be (depending on your job I guess). I’m sure I’m not the only girl out there with this same problem so I really think girls should get the two extra sick days every month! And to any guy out there who thinks it’s unfair for us to get the extra days or that we just need to suck it up and go to work you have fun dealing with me on that first day of my period. I am up and down trying to find a comfortable position which I will never find, I’m crying and making little weird noises to try and not scream from the pain, I look absolutely terrible, I am so irritated to the point that if anyone says one wrong thing I will blow up or break down and I’m going the bathroom at least every hour so I’m not going to get any work done! Lol so I’m pretty sure you would rather me just stay home anyway (:

  4. I bleed at least 84 days out of the year. Men don’t. How would it be unfair to not have to work for 12 of those 84 days? I have bad cramps for the very first day. But that’s it. Oh, and I drop into an unthinkable, unexplainable depression, and on more than one occasion have attempted suicide. Yeah, I got birth control, and counseling, but when your hormones change, what can you do? I would rather work with pneumonia that that very first day of my period. I’d like to think it’s fair for everyone, because the fact that men don’t bleed pisses me off, so the fact that I can leave while I do can piss them off, and we’re all at the same level! I have my one life, I want it to be great, and happy, and fun. If I want to take one day out of the month during which I don’t contribute to being a species that pays to exist, during which I’m not selling my time that I will never get back, all in the name of work ethic and success, then fuck it, I’ll take that day, because it’s just that, MY DAY.

  5. One would think that the sick days would simply be added in with other lump of sick days an employee gets, not classified as “menstruation sick days”, so if a woman called in for a sick day, she wouldn’t need to say “i’m gushing blood from my vag, bossman”, she could just say she’s taking a sick day.

    • At my workplace, we’re required to detail what is wrong with us and what action we’ve taken to address it. So for me personally, being able to simply say ‘menstrual sick day/female sick day’ would be a blessing! It would shut male managers up right away, and female managers couldn’t argue, even if they didn’t agree with the concept (sometimes I find women are less understanding than men, they just think you should suck it up!)

  6. Today I had incredibly bad cramps and my flow was so bad that I had to change my outfit half way through the day (you can imagine why). And luckily I’m stil a student and could bunk class. But I was wondering what am I going to do next year when I start working and I have a day like today?

    It’s not something I would use every month but it would be helpful.

  7. Being a woman that experiences more than average discomfort on a monthly basis, this would be a godsend. Having the option is different than taking it ladies. If you don’t need it, then don’t take it but like men and women have different experiences, so do we as women. Regarding the ambulances that they are referring to, its happened to me at least once due to cysts on my ovaries that make periods unbearable and literally paralyzing (any by literally, I mean literally, you’re entire lower half seizes up and god forbid you’re walking and it hits you mid stride, you hit the floor) There have been countless times where I’ve had to lay on my office floor until I was able to move again and try to take calls and run my department, which, thankfully, is made up of all women, from the floor. It would be amazing to NOT have to take high dosage of pain pills each month.

  8. I’m against it… I don’t want everyone I work with to know what stage my menstrual cycle is at! I also have a three-week cycle so I would need more days off. People would be more inclined to hire men, and not every man will become a parent, to redeem the extra time. What about infertile women? Also, there would be a huge loss in productivity and availability in workplaces. You can say it’s not making women unequal all you like, but it is. It’s giving them a free pass for something based on gender and many people will see it as a weakness. So I definitely say no.

    • I would be 100% percent willing to use my regular sick days on days of ultra painful cramps. I’m not even kidding when I say that I would rather be at work with a fever than with cramps. Seriously when I’m at work on that first day and cramping all I can do is lay my head on my desk and do nothing but whine.

  9. I have to leave my workplace when I get cramps anyway because my cramps get so bad it renders me completely, physically incapable of standing and walking, much less wash 2,000 dishes and serve drinks to 175 people within 6.5 hours. So regardless of whether I get paid or it’s a legal right… when that time of the month comes around, I call in sick.

  10. Mmmm… I don’t really know about the rest of the world, but at least in Mexico women equality is still under quotation marks, if you know what I mean. I would totally appreciate those two days off.

    And it can’t be THAT unfair to men. Let’s face it, they can’t sincerely say they understand our pain :P

  11. I think it would definitely do more damage than good. That’s a lot of lost time, and wages. I think if this were to happen, employers would be alot less likely to hire women. Even if forced to hire women, really, wouldn’t we be treated poorly in the workplace, maybe even resented. I’m happy enough thinking “HAHA you SOB, I can do this job while in excruciating pain better than you” and I also find working while on my period helps keep my mind off of it, while staying at home in crippling pain tends to make it worse. I think if they were to allow us extra sick days for periods, those of us who wouldn’t use them should be able to take extra holiday time or something because quite frankly, I wouldn’t use them even if I had them, I work in the labour industry and refuse to be seen as any different than my male counterpart because I believe that would make my job pretty much unbearable.

  12. Hmmm. This is really interesting. I think it’s a great idea. It should be an option as although some women experience mild pain, others I’ve come across experience fairly intense cramps, bloating and all the other fun stuff that comes with that (can I get a yay for being a women!?) However, I think it should probably come with a doctors sign-off saying you experience this severity as not all women do and it may be unnecessary? Not sure!

  13. I think that it’d be wonderful. I don’t think it undermines our strength as women because, like the article says, it’s something that’s unique to women and honestly varies from woman to woman. I know that 2 days a month, I can’t mentally function because of a hormone imbalance that’s worsened by my cycle and I know others who have it even worse than I do. We shouldn’t be penalized for a medical condition that’s beyond our control. My own husband doesn’t want to be around me on my bad days (and he knows what’s wrong), I’m sure my employer’s customers wouldn’t want to be around me those days either. Just sayin’.

    I do, however, think that it needs to be treated as such a medical condition. If it’s bad enough that you can’t go into work, you probably have something going on that a doctor can confirm which would make you eligible to receive the time off like any other medical condition.

  14. it would be SO great if health care paid for tampons and pads. LIKE WHOA. lol

  15. For the women, like me, who do experience horrible pain and take off those days every single month unpaid…This would be nice. For lazy reasons? Fuck no! That is insulting to women if you can’t handle going to work from “mild” pain and tiredness. I can handle work on mild pain with a migraine, nausea, and the flu. I honestly can’t stand up straight when I have cramps. It’s the worst I have ever felt and probably will ever feel, 12 times a year.

    Women, like you’ve personally just admitted, would take advantage of this when they aren’t really sick. Therein lies the problem – How do you really prove you need these days off?

    Don’t be lazy just because you are bleeding. Boo-Hoo you have mild pain. Women with real cramps would love to kick you in the uterus right now. Stay home if you are actually in pain or have a condition like endometriosis where you could get a note from your doctor. That’s good proof. Don’t use your period as an excuse because you’re just going to set women back.

    • That’s the real problem, because one could say “Just take them if you need them” but of course there’s always the lazy ones. I know how you feel, I get cramps that render me useless.

  16. Being someone that has on more than one occasion gone home from school with severe pain and been ill during my part time job due to my period, I can see many advantages of having this. I would actually go as far to say that it would be inequality if we didn’t have that option. As for the concerns about women being labelled as the weaker sex and this extra time off encouraging that thought, surely these names wouldn’t be labelled as ‘menstrual sick days’ or whatever, they would just be additional sick days allowed. And like the article says, women don’t have to take them but the option is there if it is needed, every woman is different and has their own needs. Personally, I would welcome this. If anything we are the stronger sex for having to work though the pain and discomfort.

  17. I actually DO experience so much pain that I’ve called out for the day before. Any woman with endometriosis can attest to experiencing extreme pain for at least one day. While it seems like a nice idea to have a paid day off for it, I agree that it’s a bit unfair/not equal. Of course, I’ve not had many jobs that offer paid sick days so I would always just accept the hit in pay and deal with it.

  18. I think this is interesting for sure, but I don’t feel it’s realistic. As previous posters have pointed out, it’s a logistical nightmare, and as someone who seems to be super sensitive to equality issues, I don’t feel this really falls into that category. In fact, it reminds me of more of the “red tent in the desert” isolationist practice that humans previously put their women through because periods are “impure.” Periods aren’t unclean, nor do I think they are instant “pass” cards for work, emotions, etc.

    For those who experience debilitating symptoms, there is always the doctors note route, or even FMLA. I understand why some may not like this, but I feel asking for extra time off for all women, regardless of cycle circumstances, even as an option, is a bit absurd.

  19. Theoretically, this is a sound idea. But logistically. It’s unfair. Not in terms of women equality, but in terms of men’s equality as well. We can’t forget about them. Sure, we can say, “take paternity leave,” but that’s assuming that they would actually be able to/have children/etc. As for the company itself. I have my degree in Human Resources. It’s a pain and a half enough to supply employees with the current benefits that one obtains already. Do you really understand how much money it costs to give someone time off? And you want more, each month, for a wittle cwamp? No. No.. If you’re in that much discomfort/pain, get a stronger pill, or, bright idea, use that healthcare benefit you get from your employer and see your doctor about some birth control to ease those suckers. Don’t be a baby. I used to have such strong cramps that it made me light headed and want to vomit everywhere. But I took care of it, and now it doesn’t happen anymore and I barely even get cramps. No.

  20. the best part of this, is that a MAN thought of it.