Apr 21, 2022 - Technology

Gaming platform GOG now offering employees menstrual leave

Illustration of a calendar with red circles.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Digital Distribution platform GOG, headquartered in Poland, is now providing its employees with menstrual leave, a policy unheard of in the game industry, and even many countries.

Why it matters: It’s considered a controversial policy, one that some say respects the physical toll of menstruation but risks making employees who take advantage of the time off seem less capable.

How it works: GOG estimates an additional day off per quarter, but allows employees to take time as needed “whenever period pains occur,” culture and communication manager Gabriela Siemienkowicz told Axios.

  • Employees can also choose to take paid time off by hours, instead of an entire day.
  • Siemienkowicz calls the policy “experimental in a sense that we plan to evaluate in what way those additional days off impact the well-being of our menstruating employees at the end of 2022, and consider expanding the policy in the upcoming year.”

The idea was inspired by Siemienkowicz’s own experience when she was having an especially painful period.

  • After bringing the topic up during a “Women of GOG” meeting, she learned she wasn’t alone. “We shared the same view on this matter and would appreciate the possibility to simply lay down and take most of the day off without sacrificing one of the regular paid absence days we have available throughout the year.”
  • “It fosters inclusiveness by accepting that there are biological differences in the workplace,” she said, adding that it helps break down taboos around periods. “By giving such additional days off, we acknowledge these symptoms are real.”

The big picture: Labor conditions within the video game industry are changing, from four-day workweeks to more inclusive policies like menstrual leave.

  • Focus on improving work culture has accelerated in the last few years around topics such as unionization, remote work and shorter working hours.

Siemienkowicz said the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, but there’s “still much work to be done, and our efforts towards making GOG a more inclusive workplace do not end here.”

  • She said the conversation internally has shown that “menstruation is still a taboo to some, which results in misinformation and unconscious bias.”

That extends outside of GOG as well.

  • Responding to the company’s announcement on LinkedIn, a Unity senior software engineer said the policy is discriminatory. “I wonder how this can be considered ‘inclusive,’ when it's the exact opposite of that.”
  • “Excellent news. Men and robots will be more competitive than women,” said a VR and UX researcher.

What’s next: There’s still a great deal of work to be done in dismantling the taboo around periods and the effect on the workplace.

  • “I can only hope that this policy will serve as a sign that GOG is an inclusive company that respects individual needs of its employees and that everyone can feel both safe and appreciated here,” Siemienkowicz said.

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