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

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1143444342 Starla Trotter

    I’m personally more affected by the – dum dum dum – WEEK BEFORE symptoms of bloating, craving ALL the foods, becoming irrationally emotional/moody, and having seriously sore breasts and muscle aches, than I am by the cramps I get during my period. I vote for days off for PMS! I think everyone would be happier. . . No but seriously, being a woman sucks some days. That’s not to say I’d rather be a man. But I completely agree with your point that sick leave policies and health insurance plans aren’t very female-centric and perhaps that’s an issue that’s been neglected far too long. I don’t think demanding some concessions for what amounts to an extreme biological inconvenience (something that on a monthly basis messes with both our physical and mental well being) is a sign of weakness. I think it’s just dealing with reality. Men WOULD do it if they had periods! And why the heck DO hard working women with health insurance have to pay for tampons?? They are a necessity, brought on by a temporary, but constantly reoccurring, physical condition. I don’t even want to know how much I will have spent on tampons (not to mention birth control) in my life span. Ugh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338606176 Summer Winkler

    I think this would be a great idea! Sometimes it’s completely necessary to lay in bed with chocolate and Netflix to deal with cramps and feeling downright terrible. Being excused from work would be perfect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=796774143 Sarah Williams

    Thought provoking for sure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10135202 Laura Donovan

    I think it’s absolutely necessary — some people get debilitating headaches and/or cramps. They might even be nauseous. I fully support this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2349839 Danny Lynn

    If women we’re allotted two sick days a month for their period, I have to believe that employers would be more inclined to hire men than women because they get two extra days of work out of them. And honestly, I wouldn’t blame them. That’s an extra 24 days off a year. That’s more than my current allotted vacation and sick time combined. This is a ridiculous proposal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505057941 Amy Doyle

    I feel that having the extra days off would be a good idea for some women in the work force. Depending on the type of the labor their job requires, it may be too much for them to handle some days. Also, if you suffer from a type of condition such as PCOS, your time of the month can be crippling. And, as any women can tell you, no two menstrual cycles are the same. One month I may be fine to run around and do errands at work, and the next month I could feel like a dagger is ripping through my stomach.
    I agree though that it should be seen as a celebration of fertility. Men should get leave when that have a child born as well. Especially in an age where two men can adopt a baby together. If they adopt a baby from birth, they are going to want the opportunity to have time at home with their new child just like a heterosexual couple would have.
    And why doesn’t health insurance cover my tampons?!?! It covers almost every other medically necessary item I may need!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=44200206 Hanna Renae Scott

    So every month, the entire office would be aware of exactly when we’re on our period. So not only will employers definitely be more inclined to hire men for the extra 24 days of work each year, but there will undoubtedly be the troll of every office, pointing out the fact that you must have PMS every time you’re less than excited about something which will probably lead to a million harassment issues. This…is a nice thought, and it would be nice to have the break, but no. Just…no.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000285166329 Brittany Mac

    Wait, what do you mean “If I had a congressperson…”? Everyone has a congressperson…get to writing!

    • Andrea Greb

      I live in DC…taxation without representation! (Technically we get a “shadow representative” but they can’t vote on anything.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=727485647 Olive Peach

    Erm some people do experience mind numbing, actually need an ambulance because they cannot walk cramps type cramps.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1319160109 Kaitlin Holzapfel

      Truth! People disregard these as myths, but it does get that bad for some women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506457056 Jenna Meacham

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=546146983 Tawny Martinez

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=688625878 Anna Gayle Young

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703955952 Jennifer Lamour

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000019218205 Emma Naylor

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1319160109 Kaitlin Holzapfel

    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.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=825000595 Pamela Rodriguez

      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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14102782 Caroline Jeffery

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

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004358352061 Nichole Cherin

      Right?! It’s not like they’re optional.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004358352061 Nichole Cherin

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1272787115 Emily Coolbeans Kelly

    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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639625323 Emily Danielle

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=825000595 Pamela Rodriguez

    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 😛

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