John Hudson has felt the full force of PMS.
John Hudson has felt the full force of PMS.

Local debate on menstrual leave

By Samantha Turnbull

If menstrual leave was given to the employees of Skimmo's Corner, John Hudson says he would be left to run the shop on his own.

John is the only male worker at the South Lismore take-away shop and thinks his six female colleagues' menstrual cycles have become synchronised.

"It seems like they all get moody and pick on me at the same time," he said.

"I reckon I should get special leave because there's only one of me!"

The concept made headlines last week when car manufacturer Toyota announced it would consider providing female factory workers 12 days' paid menstrual leave on top of their 10 days' annual sick leave.

John's wife and Skimmo's coowner, Margaret Hudson, said she would be happy to give her staff an occasional day off when their period arrived, but it should come out of their normal sick leave entitlement.

"Sometimes it can be hard to come to work, but that's what sick leave is for," she said.

"If you want to start creating more types of leave, I think we should have bad boyfriend leave and bad hair day leave as well!"

Employee Amee Austen said she failed to see any need for extra leave.

"I wouldn't need it," she said.

"Sometimes I get pains, but if you keep working and get on with your work you get through it."

The idea has been welcomed by Lismore and District Women's Health Centre manager, Karuna Fielden, who said it recognised premenstrual syndrome as a medical problem.

"It's a very new idea that will at least generate discussion which takes the taboo aspect off these topics," she said.

"Some women have serious symptoms from premenstrual syndrome that would affect their efficiency."

However, Ms Fielden said leave may be difficult to implement as every woman was affected differently.

"It varies from woman to woman ? some feel bloated and nauseous, some feel headachy and get cramps," she said.

"Some become irritable and some women have said they find it hard to concentrate and actually make mistakes which could be very dangerous in the manufacturing industry.

"If the idea is being presented as an occupational health and safety issue it makes sense."

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