Victorian Public Servants To Receive Paid Period, Reproductive and Menopause Leave

Victorian Public Servants To Receive Paid Period, Reproductive and Menopause Leave
Image: Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalitionv, via Unsplash

Public and community sector workers in Victoria are set to receive paid menstrual leave and reproductive leave. 

A new collective agreement in Victoria, signed by the state Treasurer, proposes granting employees coping with menstrual discomfort, menopausal symptoms, and IVF treatments an extra five days of paid leave.

This decision will extend their existing 10-day sick leave entitlement.

Menstrual Leave

As part of a four-year deal for public servants in Victoria will see a salary increase of three percent, a one-time cost-of-living payment of $5600, and an extension of superannuation payments to 104 weeks for those on parental leave.

This development emerges amidst escalating conversations on the topic of paid menstrual leave, fuelled by increased public awareness of conditions such as endometriosis.

Discussion about whether Australian women should receive paid menstrual leave under the Fair Work Act 2009 commenced in 2022 following advocacy from Australian unions.

After two weeks of negotiations between the Victorian government and the Community and Public Sector Union, the agreement was signed by the State Treasurer on Tuesday.

Endometriosis Impact on Workplace Productivity

According to a 2019 Australian study conducted by Endometriosis Australia, it was found that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals reported frequently taking time off work due to their endometriosis symptoms, resulting in the need for unpaid leave to cover an average of 4 days per month. 

Even while at work, endometriosis patients often grapple with pain and fatigue, a condition known as presenteeism, which significantly impacts their ability to work at full capacity. 

Presenteeism constitutes the largest contributor to the $9.7 billion annual cost of endometriosis to the Australian economy.

Prioritising Women’s Wellbeing

CEO at the Victorian Women’s Trust (VWT) Mary Crooks spoke to, stating their primary aim was to update work environments to ensure that women, who frequently represent half or more of the workforce, feel comfortable.

The VWT is the first company in Australia to offer staff a “Menstrual and Menopause Wellbeing Policy”. 

“Employers have an inherent duty of care to avoid exploiting or mistreating their staff. Considering the needs of women’s bodies in the workplace aligns logically with our occupational health and safety standards”, she said. 

The VWT’s menstrual leave policy aims to offer employees experiencing menstruation and menopause symptoms opportunities for rest and self-care during working hours.

This policy offers flexible options including working from home, staying in a comfortable workplace environment, or taking a paid day off. A medical certificate is not required to take leave under their policy. 

In January, Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan highlighted the existence of a ‘gendered pain gap’ after a survey revealed that two in five women suffer from chronic pain. 

“This won’t be a mic drop moment for the majority of Victoria’s population, because every woman has either experienced it for herself or knows someone who has. But now we have the evidence to prove it.”

“It’s time we stopped treating women’s health like some kind of niche issue. We deserve to have our pain believed and relieved”. 

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