14 October 2022

Backbencher calls for paid period leave for public servants

| Lottie Twyford
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Public service employees could be granted dedicated paid period and menopause leave. Photo: File.

ACT public service employees could be given access to specific menstruation and menopause leave, with the government agreeing to look into how this could be made possible.

Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr has also asked the Territory Government to develop a Menstruation and Menopause Policy.

Ms Orr said the purpose of such a policy would be to help employees meet their work commitments while managing the impacts of both menopause and menstruation.

As it stands, women who menstruate are required to use their personal and other leave to help manage their periods or menopausal symptoms as there’s no dedicated leave available.

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Labor backbencher Suzanne Orr has urged the government to look into how menstruation and menopause leave could be given to public servants. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Ms Orr has been a passionate campaigner on the issue of period stigma.

“For centuries women were kept out of the workforce because of their reproductive roles in society,” she said.

“While we’ve seen this change in what are still relatively recent times, there remains much to do to achieve true equality in employment including how we support women’s reproductive health in the workforce.

“People who are menstruating or experiencing menopause are not sick or injured yet the only way they can get support in the workplace to manage the impacts of their period or menopause is to treat them as though they are. It does not have to be this way and we can do better.”

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Ms Orr said this particular push had been inspired by feedback on her Period Products and Facilities (Access) Bill 2022.

That bill calls on the government to make period products free at designated locations across the Territory.

It also requires the provision of bathroom facilities so people can use these products in a private and hygienic manner, although that would only apply to public service and Territory-funded worksites.

Inquiries into those proposed laws are ongoing.

Period poverty – the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand-washing facilities and waste management – was shown to affect 15 per cent respondents to Share the Dignity’s Bloody Big Survey in July 2021.

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The idea of menstruation and menopause leave isn’t entirely without precedent in the Territory.

Women’s Health Matters, which is the ACT’s peak body for Women’s Health, has recently introduced a Reproductive Health Policy in their workplace.

CEO Lauren Anthes said such policies can help normalise reproductive health and improve gender equality in the workplace.

“Reproductive health policies provide leave and flexibility for employees for reproductive health and sexual health related needs,” she said.

“We know that reproductive health needs, including those related to menstruation and menopause, can be complex, change over time and vary significantly across individuals.”

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The motion passed the Assembly with tri-partisan support on Thursday 13 October.

ACT Greens MLA Jo Clay said it was great to see a “menstruation revolution” taking place.

Canberra Liberals MLA Leanne Castley said women and girls should be able to speak to their employer and schools about issues relating to menstruation and menopause.

The ACT Government now has until May next year to report on how menstruation and menopause leave could be implemented, along with a progress report about the Menstruation and Menopause Policy.

Ms Orr has also called for an education and awareness campaign to be rolled out across the public service.

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No, there should not be special leave for special groups of people. Everyone should be treated the same and allocated 100 hours of personal leave a year and they can use it as they choose (evidence provided, of course). Some may choose to help elderly parents attend medical appointments, some may use it to take pets to the vet, some may use it for school holiday care. The more you try to give special groups ‘priority’, the more you are actually excluding others. I’m surprised this terrible ACT government hasn’t advocated for diarrhoea leave, as so many of them are full of it.

I advocate for the ManFlu Leave as well – 100 days a year should about cover it…

SigmaOctantis7:21 am 17 Oct 22

Is this todays froth at the mouth issue? I wonder what tomorrow’s will be. Maybe the ACT govt should concentrate on delivering services.

Last 50 years, “women can do the same job as men”
2022, “Women need more days off”

Would women need to be assigned the same workload as their male counterparts?
Perhaps the males could work shorter days? or are we using this as an excuse to not do the same job yet get paid the same.

HiddenDragon7:22 pm 15 Oct 22

Another step in the long march towards making the ACT public sector the most expensive and least effective means possible for delivering services to the ACT public.

“CEO Lauren Anthes said such policies can help normalise reproductive health and improve gender equality in the workplace.”

“Reproductive health policies provide leave and flexibility for employees for reproductive health and sexual health related needs,” she said.

“ACT Greens MLA Jo Clay said it was great to see a “menstruation revolution” taking place.”

The insanity of all this is that, if implemented, men identifying as female will feel alienated because they won’t be entitled to take 2 days off a month because they don’t have a uterus!

And exactly why should this only be discussed in relation to public servants ? There are a lot of women who aren’t public servants and I assure you they also suffer in the same kind of percentage and degree as any female public servants. Apart from that .. how ridiculous !!

SILLY IDEA, because there’s sick leave, and most people likely never use all their sick leave up. Only about one in ten women (those who suffer from endometriosis) are likely to need to take time off. I suffered from that terribly (classified as severe), but I never ran out of sick leave, even though I took sick leave every month, and when I retired, I had months of sick leave still available. Wasn’t the sort to use up sick leave for a ‘sicky’ (going fishing, heavy night out with the boys, etc), so didn’t waste it.
This idea is just another excuse to discriminate against premenstrual women, and then after that aged discrimination will take over.

Being a male, I might cope a verbal flogging for this comment, but menstruation (& menopause)leave, seriously?
Taking this idea to the extreme potentially, a quarter of your female staff could be on menstruation leave at any time! Imagine trying to run a business and managing sick leave. Your employee is away for more than 2 days on menstruation leave, do you ask for a doctor’s Certificate?

What about the women employed as casuals? Because they don’t get sick leave, would employees need to pay a casual loading of 31.25% for female staff, to cover the extra forgone menstruation leave?

I’m suggesting that most people have plenty of ordinary sick leave entitlements. Creating an extra entitlement for female employees is an unreasonable cost to employers.

Who elects these politicians ?

It’s silly because it increases the overheads to employ female staff making them less likely to get hired by businesses.

It will actively harm progress to equality.

“Who elects these politicians ?”

Take a walk and look at the Canberra sheeple – they’re all around you. Breathing. Breeding.

William Newby9:00 am 15 Oct 22

Females make up more than 65% of our public servants now, but Barrs focus isn’t on this 15% male gap, no it’s on the 0.5% pay gap that still remains.

Now there is a push for a wholesale reduction in working days per month from 22 to 20 by this same group.

Where does it end?

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