When Bex Baxter started seeing women in her office "bent over double" with pain—not from indigestion or appendicitis, but from their monthly menstrual cycles—she knew she had to act, per the Guardian. So the director of Coexist, based in Bristol, England, has decided to implement a "period policy" that will allow her female employees (all but seven of the 31 who work there) to take time off for menstrual pain. "They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it," she says, per the Independent. The specifics of the policy haven't yet been drafted; Baxter and her team intend to do so during a March 15 seminar.
Apparently there are many women suffering like this: The NIH's Medline Plus reports period pain "is the leading cause of lost time from school and work among women in their teens and 20s." The concept of menstrual leave isn't new: Fox News points out that Japan has had it since right after WWII, and other Asian countries, including a Chinese province, have followed suit; Nike was one of the first global companies to have a menstrual leave policy. But a professional living in Shanghai writes for the Global Times that there's often fear on women's part that they'll fall behind at work and risk annoying the boss by taking time off. Baxter refutes the idea that taking time off is unproductive. "The spring section of the cycle, immediately after a period, is a time when women are actually three times as productive as usual." (Read more menstruation stories.)