Forget about period leave in SA - experts

By Kamcilla Pillay Time of article published Mar 4, 2016

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Durban - “Period leave” - if introduced locally - could make women targets of discrimination when it comes to job recruitment.

The policy is being considered at Coexist, a community interest firm in Bristol, reported The Independent.

Bex Baxter, a director at the company, said that the policy would aim to maximise productivity.

 

KwaZulu-Natal commissioner for gender equality Janine Hicks said such leave was not permissible in terms of existing South African law

Hicks said: “Nonetheless, individual companies would still be able to innovate and create provisions such as period leave - nothing prevents an employer from granting additional benefits to its employees.”

Hicks said that in engaging with private and public sector entities as part of its gender transformation investigation hearings, the body had encouraged employers to follow the spirit of the Employment Equity Act to identify barriers to the entry, advancement and retention of women in the workplace.

“This typically addresses challenges women experience in juggling child and domestic responsibilities with career pressures, and includes measures such as child care facilities and flexible working hours.”

Pro Appointments recruitment agency owner Cindy Norcott said she did not think the policy would work in South Africa.

She said in extreme cases, women could take advantage of their sick leave allocation in the event of pain or severe discomfort during menstruation.

“I believe that if this leave were to come into effect, women would certainly be at a disadvantage as employers would want to hire staff that are at work and contributing to the business every day. It could make employers nervous to hire women as they might take their allocation of period leave.”

Norcott said that from the statistics of absenteeism in South Africa, she was certain a large percentage of women would take advantage of this kind of leave without needing it.

“I don't believe that such leave is necessary as our Basic Conditions of Employment Act is quite generous regarding allowing sick leave, annual leave and compassionate leave. If this law were to come into effect, it would lead to even greater unproductivity in South African companies.”

The Mercury

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