Sick Pay and periods, what’s the go?

Sick Pay and periods, what’s the go?

The question of whether women in New Zealand can use their sick pay for their menstrual needs sparks a heated discussion around workplace policies, gender equality, and the challenges faced by individuals during their periods. In this blog, we'll explore both sides of the argument, shedding light on the current scenario and the potential implications for women who exhaust their sick leave. 

Pro: We want period pay, and we want it now! 

Gender Equality: Advocates of using sick pay for menstrual needs argue that providing this option aligns with the principle of gender equality. Menstruation is a natural biological process that affects a significant portion of the workforce, and offering paid leave for period-related discomfort acknowledges this reality. 

Health and Well-Being: Menstrual symptoms can vary in intensity and may lead to discomfort, pain, and reduced productivity. Allowing sick pay for menstrual needs recognises the importance of employees' health and well-being, enabling them to manage their periods without financial stress. 

Workplace Morale: Implementing such a policy can contribute to a positive workplace culture that prioritises employee needs and fosters inclusivity. It sends a message that the company values the diverse experiences and challenges that its workforce faces. 

Against: Yeah, Nah. Let’s just get on with our work. 

Sustainability: One of the concerns raised is the sustainability of using sick pay for menstrual needs. This approach might strain sick leave resources, potentially impacting employees who genuinely need leave for illness or emergencies. 

Legal and Policy Implications: The legal and regulatory aspects of modifying sick leave policies to include menstrual needs need careful consideration. Changes might require amendments to employment contracts, potentially causing logistical challenges and disputes. 

Stigmatisation: Introducing specific paid leave for menstrual needs could inadvertently stigmatise menstruation further. Some argue that it might create an environment where discussing periods openly becomes uncomfortable or subject to scrutiny. 

Implications of Exhausting Sick Leave: I’m in pain so now what?  

For women who exhaust their sick leave due to menstrual needs, the situation presents further complexities: 

Unpaid Leave: Once sick leave is depleted, women may need to take unpaid leave to manage their menstrual symptoms. This can result in financial strain and impact their overall well-being. 

Reduced Income: Unpaid leave leads to reduced income, potentially affecting individuals' ability to cover essential expenses, such as rent, power, and groceries. 

Workplace Productivity: The absence of paid leave for menstrual needs could compel some women to work through discomfort, negatively affecting their productivity and potentially exacerbating health issues. 

The debate over using sick pay for menstrual needs is multi-faceted, touching on gender equality, workplace policies, and individual health. While there are valid arguments on both sides, it's crucial that New Zealand workplaces strike a balance that acknowledge the unique challenges menstruating individuals face, while also considering the practical implications for workplaces. Implementing thoughtful policies that address these concerns can contribute to a more inclusive and supportive work environment, ensuring that all employees can manage their health and well-being without compromising their financial stability. As discussions progress, finding common ground becomes paramount for fostering a healthier, more equitable future for women in New Zealand and beyond. 


Back to blog