HACSU member Caroline Jephcott has been suffering with endometriosis for over 30 years. But it has been in her life for much longer than that. Not only does she go through the symptoms every month, but so too did three generations of her family. Even after all these years, she still says the first three days of her period are the hardest, where she can experience excruciating pain at times. Taking at least three days off work every month for this pain has been a bit of a burden to her. So, six years ago, she got a hysterectomy. But not all of her motivation for doing this was about the pain.
“I was motivated (to get a hysterectomy) by the amount of time I was taking off work,” she said. “I was using up all of my sick leave for something I didn’t need to.”
Jephcott says it would be “awesome” to have access to Reproductive Health and Wellbeing Leave because there was a time where she had to attend work in pain. Although she had support from some members of her workplaces over the years, she believes it would have been a lot easier if she wasn’t forced to take sick leave for reproductive health and wellbeing matters. Unfortunately, that very view is being shared by some key decision-makers at the bargaining table. They believe workers should simply use their sick leave for reproductive health and wellbeing matters. Jephcott says she is “disgusted” by this view.
“I don’t get maternity leave because I chose not to have children,” she said. “I don’t think I should be disadvantaged because of that. I don’t think I should be penalised.”