Modibodi uses paid leave to support menstruating staff

Global absorbent clothing brand Modibodi, which employs more than 35 employees at its head office in Sydney, Australia, and has distribution centres in the UK and the US run by a third party, allows its staff to take 10 days of paid leave for menstruation and menopause symptoms or if they are experiencing a miscarriage, with the option to work from home if they are feeling discomfort.

The organisation understands that for some employees, the symptoms they experience during menstruation, menopause or miscarriage are significant and it wants to openly discuss and champion honest conversations on women’s health topics to help normalise them.

Kristy Chong, founder and chief executive officer of Modibodi, says: “It’s important for us to break the stigma that periods are shameful, embarrassing or something to be secretive about. Over half the population has had them at some stage of their life, and it is high time we banish the shame that is associated with something that happens regularly and is natural.”

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With this initiative, senior leadership wanted to normalise conversations, for staff to be able to speak honestly about their experience with menstruation, menopause and miscarriage, to remove stigma and shame, and to not feel ashamed about any related challenges. So far, Modibodi has found that staff from all age ranges have found this to be extremely useful and has received feedback that the policy has boosted productivity, loyalty and openness in the workplace, and workers are much more open about the sensitive topics.

Chong recommends that other employers have an open discussion with their workforce to shape what a policy might look like and how it would work in reality.

“I think many businesses fear this sort of policy could be abused by staff,” she says. “But if [they] have the mindset that we do at Modibodi, that people want to be healthy and they want to do a good job at work, I absolutely believe [they will] get more out of [their] staff by offering them the support instead of making them suffer in silence. By allowing people to speak up about their health concerns, we do a lot to improve the mental health outcomes of our staff in the long term, so you get a more productive workforce.”