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Bristol company introduces new approach to flexible working
Allison Cook Partner, Veale Wasbrough Vizards
A company in Bristol is believed to be the first in the UK to introduce a 'period policy'.
In recent years, we have seen changes to the law relating to flexible working. Since 30 June 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous employment can put in a request for flexible working to their employer.
Coexist, a community interest company based in Bristol, has taken flexible working further by proposing to introduce a policy which allows women to take time off if they are suffering during their period, and make up the time another day. It is thought they will be the first in the UK to introduce such a policy.
Coexist believe that the policy will 'create a happier and healthier working environment' and improve productivity. The premise is that it allows women to take time off when they need to 'regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies'. Immediately after their periods, women are then 'three times as productive as usual', which is beneficial to the company.
Coexist hope other firms will follow their lead; however, others have condemned the policy as a step backwards, believing that it encourages the world to continue to attribute women's behaviour to their hormones.
Equivalent policies can also be adopted for women experiencing the menopause. ACAS have issued advice in relation to this, which says employers 'should train managers and develop a policy to ensure they have an understanding of how menopausal symptoms can affect women at work'. They also advise employers to review the flexibility of their working hours and allow time off for employees to seek medical treatment and advice.
It remains to be seen whether other companies will follow in the footsteps of Coexist, but changes to flexible working in recent years, and pioneering policies such as this suggest that employers are moving towards facilitating flexibility in the workplace.