Endometriosis and the Workplace
1 in 10 women suffer with conditions such as endometriosis or adenomyosis. elle belle recruitment fits that statistic; 1 out of elle belle’s 7 employees suffers from endometriosis.
As an endometriosis sufferer, it is hard to describe the pain to people who have not experienced it. One of the most challenging things about this frustrating disorder is having to miss work when pain strikes. Here are some ways to make it easier on both the employee and employer.
Be honest and upfront: If you ever must miss work due to pain, let your employer know why you are unwell. I have tried to cover up why I am missing previously by saying I have the flu etc. but have found from experience that if you are open with your manager from the beginning, they will be more understanding in the future. As an employer, show some empathy when an employee comes to you with this sensitive information.
Educate: If your employer doesn’t know much about endometriosis, educated them. There is some good information on the Endometriosis Australia website that you can send to an employer and it can also give you some good verbiage to use when describing endo.
Be prepared: I always have pain medication and a heat pad or hot water bottle with me at work to help relieve the pain when it strikes. Saying this, sometimes it is too unbearable, and heading home is the only option. If you go into work, knowing you aren’t that well and may need to head home, give your employer a heads up that you are in pain. That way they will be prepared to cover your workload if you do need to leave.
Know your sick leave entitlements: No one wants to use all their sick leave, and employers prefer to hire someone who never intends to use sick leave, but everyone feels unwell at some point. If you are a full time, permanent employee you are entitled to 10 paid days per year. If you are a casual employee, you are not entitled to paid sick leave but are entitled to 2 days unpaid leave.
Know your company policy: Sometimes it can be daunting to pick up the phone when the pain strikes, so a brief call saying you are too unwell and won’t be in but will check in later is all you need. Can you text? Some managers will accept a text when you are sick but ask your manager what they prefer and follow procedures. As a manager, making it clear to your employees from the beginning will ease any future confusion when it comes to expectations.
Offer alternatives: Think about ways that you can get the work done when a day out of the office is required. Some days the pain is to too much to manage and work is impossible, but often work can still be done if you can be in the comfort of your own home. Ask your employer if you can do some work remotely when needed.
I am lucky enough to have a very understanding manager, but I know we aren’t all that lucky. This article by Business Chicks talks about how other countries have introduced a menstrual leave policy, and even mentions an Australian company who allows women a maximum of 12 days per year.
Would you embrace a menstrual leave policy at your workplace?