Beyond menstrual leave: French retailer Carrefour gives endometriosis sufferers extra paid days off

Endometriosis is a chronic health condition affecting one in 10 women
Endometriosis is a chronic health condition affecting one in 10 women Copyright Canva
By Oceane Duboust
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French retail giant Carrefour is allowing workers diagnosed with severe endometriosis to take 12 days of extra paid leave per year.

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Endometriosis is a chronic health condition affecting one in 10 women and it can have serious consequences such as crippling pain as well as fertility issues. It currently cannot be cured, though treatments can relieve some of the symptoms.

This disease causes tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, to develop outside of the womb in abnormal locations, such as the ovaries, vagina, fallopian tubes, rectum, bladder or intestines.

While Spain recently became the first Western country to introduce a nationwide “menstrual leave” earlier this year, municipalities and companies are also increasingly offering paid days off for workers with severe period pain.

Carrefour, the world’s eighth biggest retailer by revenue, announced this week that employees in France suffering from severe endometriosis would get one extra day of paid leave per month.

CEO Alexandre Bompard said he planned to extend the benefits to all countries where the company operates. Around 200,000 women currently work for the group.

The move was praised by Olivier Véran, France’s former Health Minister and current government spokesperson as “encouraging social dialogue, where possible, where it makes sense,” in the workplace.

To benefit from this measure, employees will need a document proving their disabling condition.

However, endometriosis is notoriously underdiagnosed and patients on average have to go through seven years of medical errancy before their condition is recognised and treated, according to the dedicated platform endometriosis.org.

Carrefour is not the only company in France offering time off for endometriosis sufferers - luxury giant L’Oréal already gives three days to those with a diagnosis.

In January 2022, French President, Emmanuel Macron announced a national strategy to manage endometriosis, but the topic has seen little follow-up from the government.

Menstrual leave comes to Europe

In February, Spain was the first country in Europe to pass a law allowing workers with painful periods and a doctor’s note to take extra days off each month.

North of Paris, the city of Saint-Ouen has also started experimenting with a paid menstrual leave of two days per month.

The city’s mayor hailed it as “a tangible advance for women's rights” and called for the initiative to be expanded nationwide.

Representatives from the Ecologist party are also currently working on a bill that should be discussed at the end of May.

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