Leave Policies Reflect Level of Trust in Employees

Recently a UK company made headlines by announcing it would offer paid leave to women who are having their periods. See here: http://bit.ly/1Pdvdp8

I first saw the article posted in an HR group and all the comments I read focused on how difficult this would be to track/validate and how employees were bound to “abuse” the leave.

While I do understand the HR professional mindset behind needing to track everything, being in compliance, etc., I have always taken issue with the belief that the majority of  employees will take any opportunity to  “abuse” their leave. If an employee has accrued (or become otherwise eligible) for leave, how is using it abusing it? If an employee has 52 days of sick leave and they take one day a week for a year, are they abusing it? Even though they’ve earned it? Isn’t that what it’s there for? Hmm..

I believe an organization’s leave policies and attitude towards usage of leave mirror their level of trust in their employees and reflect their organizational culture. Employers worry about “leave abuse” when they know their employees may not enjoy coming to work. Toxic environments lead to low morale which leads to less productivity, more health issues (physical and mental) and in turn more time away from work. In environments and cultures where employees don’t dread going to work, this is not a concern.

I’ve read several articles stating that employees tend to take less leave at companies that have unlimited leave policies. The employers trust their employees to get their work done and take leave when they need to, for whatever reason, and in turn the employees are productive without having to worry about how best to use their limited leave or what to do when unexpected situations arise.

Going back to the original article, I’m sure that organization has fostered an environment in which they can trust their female employees to utilize the “period leave” as needed and not to “abuse” it. I’m sure the women who work there who could use the leave appreciate their employer caring enough to offer it and in turn, will be happier and more productive knowing that they won’t have to worry about their jobs simply because of a natural body function.

I’m not saying this would work for all employers or that all employers should offer it. But I do believe it’s a great example of an “employee first” culture and we need more of those.

P.S.- It isn’t lost on me that this company is not in the U.S.

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