UWU calls for menstrual and menopausal leave for Australian workers
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > UWU calls for menstrual and menopausal leave for Australian workers

UWU calls for menstrual and menopausal leave for Australian workers

by Freya Lucas

November 24, 2022

The United Workers Union (UWU) has joined with the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the Australian Workers’ Manufacturing Union (AMWU) in a push to secure menstrual and menopause leave for Australian workers who menstruate. 


Leading workplace law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers recently lent its support to the campaign. 


AWU Queensland State Secretary Stacey Schinnerl said leave entitlements needed to be modernised to reflect the specific health experiences of those who menstruate.


“Some suffer throughout their entire working life,” she explained, “from the age they begin menstruating, to pregnancy – complications can arise in conceiving, carrying and post-natal issues, then peri-menopause symptoms arrive, followed by menopause.” 


“With this in mind, 10 days personal leave per year, and the current flexibility arrangements under the Fair Work Act (FWA) are insufficient in recognising the health concerns,” she continued, arguing that those who menstruate face additional hurdles in contrast to men – who receive the same entitlements but experience none of those health hurdles.


The TWU’s Lana Goodman-Tomsett said many are forced to hide period pain from their employers or take pain killers to mask symptoms and continue working.


“Many are afraid to share a diagnosis, or discuss symptoms, including ongoing pain for fear of bosses thinking they will be sick every month,” she explained.


Linda Revill, National Coordinator Property Services with United Workers Union, said workplace legislation was not fit-for-purpose.


“We must also have a discussion about how proper rights to leave apply across the board and do not leave out those trapped in insecure and casual work,” she said.


Maurice Blackburn Lawyer Jessica Heron said existing leave provisions under the Fair Work Act are insufficient as they did not account for those who menstruate to take personal leave for menstrual-related pain.


“The most effective way of combating this unfairness is to create a uniform legislative standard allowing for additional leave days under the Fair Work Act,” she said, adding that those who menstruate should be given at least 12 extra days leave a year, or one day per month.


Ms Heron says this additional leave is a crucial step to addressing gender equality in Australian workplaces.


Menstrual and menopause leave is funded by the Spanish Government for up to five days a month. Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, China and Taiwan also have menstrual leave entitlements.

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