Back in May Spain introduced a bill proposing that anyone with a period can take an additional three to five days off per month for period pain. “Periodic leave” would be given to those who need it, evidenced by a doctor’s note. The intention here is good, but the truth is that this policy makes me way more uncomfortable than my period ever was.
Policies are necessary for a business. They define the terms of engagement between employee and employer when handling a difficult situation such as a grievance or disciplinary action, or important arrangements such as maternity or paternity leave and pay. , among other things. Period pain, however, is not a situation that requires conditions of engagement to manage. Periods are not a circumstance that must be closely monitored with a set of rules or documents to demonstrate their need for an answer. They should not require proof to justify the authorization to manage them. Not only because periods vary from person to person and month to month, but because, quite frankly, I don’t want my employer to help me manage my periods, I want ‘he leaves me the freedom to manage them myself as I am the only one who knows how.
The problem with this policy is that it demonstrates a lack of trust between employer and employee. This way of running a business doesn’t work if you try to build a truly flexible and inclusive culture, which is what we try (and I think succeed) to do at Mr. President.
We are fully aware that circumstances vary from person to person. last minute issues arise, childcare arrangements fall apart, mental health issues can come to light unexpectedly, life happens all the time. Including periods. People will always try to juggle the demands of their professional and personal lives. Employers should stop opposing this or trying to control it and instead let it happen. Trust your employees to exercise good judgment in the use of their time, to be able to meet the needs of their work as well as manage their own personal needs, knowing that they have the flexibility to do so. This is real flexible working – take what you need when you need it. It’s the easiest way to make sure everyone is treated the same. We don’t want our employees guessing whether they “deserve” it or have “a right to it”, they just know that we trust them to manage their time.
We have gone further: we encourage our employees to also manage their personal development. Each employee manages his own development agenda, he dictates the frequency with which he wishes to discuss his personal development. They are of course supported by their line manager, but the process is not dictated by rules, deadlines and mandates, it is flexible, to meet the needs of the individual and help them chart their own path from career and future. It is this kind of empowerment and autonomy that allows employees to thrive, knowing that we trust them and will support them when they need us.
Of course, there are times when intervention is necessary. Sometimes people need to be reminded that they have flexibility and how to use it, but that’s part of being an inclusive leader. Listening and observing what is happening in our team is a big part of my role, providing timely reminders and leading by example.
So thank you, but no thanks to a period policy. We don’t need more policies to describe how we engage, we just need to create work cultures that empower people to do what they need to do to manage their own needs.