(THECOUNT) — At the Victorian Women’s Trust offices in bustling Melbourne, Australia, the small staff of about 15 employees — all women except for one — talk openly about everything, even their menstrual cycles.

The women’s advocacy organization in Australia has been offering paid days off for painful periods, called “period leave” or “menstrual leave,” to its employees for the past 18 months.


These days do not count as “sick leave,” but they are specifically provided for those monthly occasions when a woman might request to stay home due to having uncomfortable symptoms related to her menstrual cycle.

Now, the organization is encouraging other employers to introduce similar menstrual policies, and it even provides a “menstrual policy template” for employers to download online to integrate into their own organizations.

“The interesting thing, over 18 months, I think the number of days of leave that my staff has claimed is probably about seven or eight across the whole office,” said Mary Crooks, executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust.source

The menstrual leave policy was introduced after the organization launched a large research project called The Waratah Project, exploring how women collectively think about menstruation and menopause, Crooks said.

That research, which involved an online survey of more than 3,000 women and 22 in-person discussion groups, could be released within the next six months, Crooks said.