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Everything You Need To Know About Period Leave

Earlier this year it was International Women's Day – a day dedicated to celebrating influential women across the globe and recognizing their achievements whether they be social, economical or cultural. It was also at a time when British company, Coexist, hit the headlines when their company director announced that she would be granting female employees 'period leave' – or paid absence from work to recover from the pain associated with their menstrual cycle. This decision has been met with a mixed reception, especially at a time when accelerating gender parity is at the forefront of people's minds. Is period leave an empowering move for women or does it set them back, differentiating them as weak alongside their male counterparts? Could it work in your company or would it create issues within the workforce? Here are just a few things to consider when thinking about period leave as a workplace policy.

What is period leave?

Period leave is just that – leave from work to deal with any pain or discomfort associated with your period. It would be a paid absence similar to sick leave, only specific to issues surrounding menstruation.

Do we really need it?

Studies reveal that 75% of young women and between 25-50% of adult women suffer at least some pain while having their periods. Further research concluded that 26% of schoolgirls had missed school due to this pain and four out of ten women reported being unable to concentrate on their work and consequently feeling that their career had been negatively affected by it. In that respect, period pain can be a very real and very debilitating condition that affects a large percentage of the female workforce. For those who suffer from additional conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or endometriosis, the effects can be even more severe. So yes, having some sort of legislation could give this section of the workforce some protection and reassurance when it comes to taking time off work due to their periods.

Is it a new idea?

Although there is currently no fixed employment law within Australia that directly relates to period leave, the concept is not a new one and has been existent in other countries (such as Japan and South Korea) for almost seventy years. Currently Nike is one of the only major, multi-national companies that actively rolls out this policy and has been doing so since 2007.

What are the benefits?

Along with protecting their staff, advocates of period leave may argue that this is an empowering move for women in that it goes some way to breaking the stigma relating to menstruation and brings it out in the open where it can be openly discussed and dealt with. In this way a woman won't feel pressured into coming into work or hiding her pain because she feels embarrassed. After all, menstruation is a natural bodily function and women shouldn't feel ashamed about the practicalities of dealing with it.

It could also be seen as a way of boosting morale and productivity within the workplace. Period pain is best known for causing congestive pain and cramping but it can also exacerbate IBS, cause headaches, tiredness and low mood. If a woman is granted time off to recover from all of these ailments in peace then she will probably return to work feeling fresh, motivated and more inspired than if she'd been forced to struggle through it.

How could it cause practical problems associated with it?

There is no 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to menstruation. While some women suffer terribly, others sail through it with no problems. In this way, period leave may lend itself to being abused and may also incite bad feeling within men (or women who don't menstruate) within the same workforce who could argue that special treatment is being granted in the form of period leave. It's arguable whether a high percentage of women would even use the policy if it were put in place on a wider scale. Would they feel comfortable broadcasting to their colleagues that they were on their period? Would they want to knowingly take time off for this reason, especially if they work in a primarily male dominated office? Would they fear that it made them look biologically less capable? This is the fear of people who don't agree with the policy because ultimately it sets women back, socially and professionally, to a time when they were seen to be the weaker sex because of their biology.

Although it is accepted that there might be occasions where a woman's period was painful enough to warrant time off work, those who disagree with the concept may argue that sick leave is a more appropriate method of doing so because it doesn't bring gender based politics into the equation quite so much.

Post written by Anne Farthing (April 2016)


Logic Business Resources, International Women's Day, accessed 23.03.16.

News.com.auPaid menstrual leave is now a thing, accessed 23.03.16.

Show and tell online, Would you support paid menstrual leave?, accessed 23.03.16.

Femail, Period pain and how to survive it, accessed 23.03.16.

Jean Hailes, Endometriosis, accessed 23.03.16.

PsychGuides, Coping with PMDD, accessed 23.03.16.

MyDr, Period pain, accessed 23.03.16.

The Conversation, Does gender equality suffer when women get menstrual leave, accessed 23.03.16.


Marijuana At Work - What’s The Position?

After long campaigning [1] and no small amount of controversy, the Australian government have legalized the use of medical marijuana [2]. Many have welcomed this move, seeing it as a positive step towards greater health, wellbeing, and freedom for the Australian populace. Others are not so happy. On a practical level, however, how do the new marijuana laws affect your business? Are employees now allowed to use marijuana at work? What is the position of an employer or a business who finds an employee using marijuana?

Effects Of Marijuana Upon Work

Anything which affects one’s state of mind or concentration can alter one’s work capabilities [3]. Like it or loathe it, marijuana does have an undeniable effect upon one’s state of mind [4]. The extent to which this alters one’s work capabilities, however, depends greatly upon the type of work being done. While marijuana affects different people in different ways, common effects include a sense of wellbeing, a loss of inhibition, reduced co-ordination, drowsiness, altered perceptions, and paranoia. It is clearly not advisable for someone under the influence of marijuana to be doing things like using heavy machinery or driving goods vehicles. However, someone who works as an ‘ideas person’ may find their performance mildly improved by marijuana. One must not forget, after all, that the use of caffeine also brings with it many mind-altering properties, and it’s a rare person indeed who can be abstinent from coffee!

The Legal Position

While it is now legal to grow and use medicinal marijuana, Australia’s drug laws remain as strict as ever. Medicinal marijuana is going to be very tightly controlled [5]. Anyone using marijuana or a substance derived from marijuana for recreational purposes is still very much breaking the law, and will be subject to all the penalties that entails. Furthermore, any company whose employees are found to be under the influence of recreational marijuana may be liable [6] under the Occupational Health and Safety laws of Australia should any negative outcomes occur as a result of their actions. This is one of the reasons behind many companies introducing drug testing into their operations [7]. In order to be using marijuana legally at work (or to be experiencing its effects while at work), your employees will require a valid prescription from a doctor, and to have obtained the marijuana from a licensed and governmentally approved source. Otherwise, they get the book thrown at them, and any employer would be advised to put as much legal distance as possible between themselves and their stoned employee!

Who Gets A Prescription?

The precise legal frameworks regulating the growth, processing, and distribution of legal medical marijuana have not yet been put in place. However, it is likely that medical marijuana will be prescribed to those living with chronic and prolonged conditions. Marijuana has been proved useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including muscular spasms, chronic pain, nausea (such as that experienced during chemotherapy), epilepsy, rheumatoid conditions, and many more. It gives undoubted relief from the symptoms of such diseases, and many Australian medical authorities are consequently pleased at its legalization. It won’t be issued as a smokable substance, and, in the prescribed format, it is unlikely to give the ‘high’ experienced by recreational users. Some companies are working on administering the product via a nasal spray [8]. Such sprays (and any other prescribed cannabinoids) will be considered restricted medications, subject to the same controls as drugs like morphine. As such, a responsible employee should inform their employer if they have been prescribed medical marijuana.

[1] HEMP Party

[2] Simon Thomsen, Medical marijuana is now legal in Australia, Business Insider Australia, Feb 2016

[3] Rita Milios, Buzzed at Work: The Effects of Alcohol and Drug Use on Workplace Performance, Recovery.org, Oct 2015

[4] Better Health Channel, Cannabis (marijuana)

[5] Chris Jager, Australia (Sort Of) Legalizes Marijuana: What You Need To Know, Lifehacker Australia, Feb 2016

[6] New South Wales Government, Alcohol And Other Drugs In The Workplace: Guide To Developing A Workplace Alcohol And Other Drugs Policy”, 2006

[7] Janie Smith, Workplace drug testing: What you need to know, HC Online, Jun 2014

[8] Harry Tucker, This is what medical marijuana could look like in Australia, Business Insider Australia, Mar 2016

Post written by Anne Farthing (March 2016)

Working With Children - Your Legal Duties

Depending upon the nature of your organization, there may be times when you or your employees come into contact with children during the course of your work. If you’re going to be working with children, there are certain rules and regulations [1] by which you must abide. This is for the sake of both the children in question and yourself.

Think Safety

It would be absolutely terrible for everyone involved if a child should get hurt on your watch. Any responsible company should always take precautions to ensure the safety of those with whom they are working. However, needless to say the issue is rather more emotive when children are concerned. Nobody wants to be responsible - however tangentially - for a child’s injury. Furthermore, the potential for PR disaster and legal action resulting from a lack of safety is enormous when children are involved. So do your risk assessments thoroughly [2]. Make sure that every possible safety precaution has been taken, and that you are covered to the hilt [3] for any potential problem. If you are effectively responsible for the welfare of a child, and they get hurt on your watch, then the fallout for you (both emotional and legal) could be tremendous. You really cannot be too careful when ensuring the safety of children with whom you’re working.

Working With Children Checks

Anyone who is going to be working with children needs to undergo a ‘Working With Children Check’ [4]. Put simply, this is a background check carried out by the authorities to see if there is anything in a person’s past which may indicate that they are not suitable for working with children. Anyone who applies for a working with children check will have the following aspects of their lives looked into:
1. Criminal record. Not all offences will lead to a ban on working with children, but many will [5].
2. Ombudsman findings of misconduct. If the person in question has had an ombudsman judgement against them in their professional capacity (particularly where working with children is concerned), they may well fail their working with children check.
3. Ongoing capability. Those who pass their working with children check will be subject to ongoing monitoring to ensure their suitability for the responsibility.
Those who fail their working with children check can in most territories seek a review of this by tribunal [6], which will either support or overturn the initial assessment.

Pick The Right People

While a working with children check will highlight an past misdemeanours which may indicate unsuitability for working with children, it can only go so far. You also need to think very carefully about the people you pick for the job. Some people are more responsible than others, some are more likely to pay attention to safety details, some are more empathetic (a boon when working with children), and some are just generally better suited for child-based work [7]. It is absolutely imperative that you do choose capable, responsible, patient, and safe individuals for jobs involving children.

Don’t Exploit Children!

This should go without saying, but unfair child labour is a bad thing. The Australian government takes a very dim view of it. There is a strict framework in place to ensure that any young people you employ are treated fairly and not exploited. These regulations vary from industry to industry, but in general the minimum age for child employment is around 13, and anyone under the age of majority must be employed under certain stringent conditions [8]. For example, it is illegal to employ children during antisocial hours, must get breaks of a minimum of 30 minutes for every three hours worked, and must not be employed during school hours on school days. Should you be employing children, Child Employment Officers will check to see that you are keeping to the child employment regulations, and penalties for not doing so can be very strict indeed. For the safety of both children and your own business, be a good employer!
[1] Working With Children Check, “Working With Children Act”
[2] Harriet Stacey, “Basic Risk Assessment for Employees Working with Children”, Wise Workplace, Sept 2014
[3] Q, "Corporate Healthcare"
[4] New South Wales Government, “Working With Children Check”
[5] Office of the Children’s Guardian, Government of New South Wales, “Fact Sheet 13: Disqualifying offences (Schedule 2)”, May 2015
[6] Government of New South Wales, Civil And Administrative Tribunal
[7] Kinga Harskuti, “Want to Work With Children: 5 Skills and Qualities You Should Be Working On”, Social Work Helper, Jan 2014
[8] Victorian State Government, “Child employment laws and requirements”

Post written by Anne Farthing (April 2016)

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Logic Business Resources.

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