Bristol company introduces 'period policy' for female employees
A firm is believed to be the first in the UK to introduce a "period policy" to try and make what can be a monthly trauma for women a bit easier for its female staff.
Coexist, a community interest company in Bristol, has a largely female workforce and plans to tap into its employees' natural cycle to create a happier and healthier working environment.
There are 24 members of staff at the Stokes Croft-based company, of which only seven are men.
Bex Baxter, one of the directors at Coexist, said: "As a manager of staff I have seen women really suffer with their periods and I have found them doubled over in a lot of pain.
"They feel guilty and ashamed for taking time off and often sit at their desks in silence not wanting to acknowledge it.
"It started from there and we thought we had to see what we could do about it and try and break the last great taboo.
"Nothing like this has been done in the UK before, we believe, and if it has, it has been very small."
Miss Baxter believes the new policy will increase productivity and hopes that other firms will follow the lead of global sportswear giant Nike and introduce similiar policies.
"Many companies are male-dominated and encourage long hours but there is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive," she said.
"This is not about employees taking more time off but working more flexibly and efficiently around their menstrual cycle and encouraging a work-life balance.
"When women are having their periods they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies.
"The spring section of the cycle, immediately after a period, is a time when women are actually three times as productive as usual."
The policy has been created as part of the Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles In The Workplace seminar which will take place later this month.
It is based on the work of Alexandra Pope, the founder and creator of women's leadership programme, Red School.
"It seemed a great opportunity to host an event for other businesses which can launch their own conversation about it," Ms Baxter added.
The seminar takes place on March 15 at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft.