Paid Menstrual and Menopause Leave

Recently Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and five trade unions have come out in support of introducing paid menstrual and menopause leave to the Fair Work Act. But what is menstrual and menopause leave and how does it or would it work?

What is it?

Essentially it is paid time away from work which would enable a person who is suffering with painful periods or severe menopause symptoms to rest and recuperate or attend specialist medical appointments if necessary.

Why is it needed?

For some women, symptoms of periods (including endometriosis) and menopause are significant and debilitating – both physically and emotionally.

According to a 2017 survey by YouGov, up to 92% of Australian women have at some point attended work while experiencing menstrual pain with up to 77% of those women saying that the pain impaired their ability to work at their best.

A study of menopausal women in the workplace, conducted by Circle In and the Victorian Women’s Trust found as many as 83% of the women they surveyed said that their work was negatively impacted by menopause and up to 45% of those women considered retiring or taking a break from work due to severe menopausal symptoms.

Paid Menstrual and Menopause Leave would acknowledge the contribution women make in the workplace and would also assist to positively impact on productivity, absenteeism, and it also goes some way to promoting a supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

Is this a new concept?

It’s not. In fact, there are several countries that already have legislated menstrual / menopause leave in place and more who have plans to do so. Several Australian organisations already offer their employees this type of leave; ModiBodi, Future Super, and the Victorian Women’s Trust are among them.

How would it work?

The proposal being lobbied by the unions and Maurice Blackburn would see employees being entitled to one day a month (or 12 days per year) of paid leave.

ModiBodi, a retail business with a largely feminised workforce, implemented their Paid Menstrual, Menopause and Miscarriage Leave Policy in 2021. Under their policy employees have the option to take time off when experiencing menstrual or menopause symptoms, or to work flexibly either working at home or modifying the structure of their workday while the symptoms are severe.

Under the NES women who suffer a miscarriage are entitled to two days of paid compassionate leave and a few days of unpaid parental leave. Modibodi have also upped the ante by extending paid leave to women who experience miscarriage.

What are the drawbacks?

Aside from the obvious – that organisations may not necessarily have the budget for this additional paid leave type there is also a high likelihood of the leave not being utilised in workplaces where it is not properly understood what the leave is and what is used for and also the possibility that women may feel uncomfortable about asking a male supervisor or manager for time off for menstrual or menopause leave.

Key takeaways

There is a push for paid menstrual and menopause leave to be legislated under State and Federal industrial relations acts.

This type of leave has already been adopted in several countries and some Australian businesses.

It is a step further towards gender equality and fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

Businesses are urged to start considering how to ensure such a policy or legislated entitlement could be implemented in their organisation to ensure the details of the policy are clearly and fully communicated and understood by the workforce and how requests to use such leave could be received that would ensure women felt comfortable to ask.

If you have any questions about your rights and obligations concerning leave entitlements and the NES, get in touch at or via the Contact Form.


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