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CD Projekt Red announces menstrual leave for employees

CD Projekt Red, the studio behind Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, has announced menstrual leave for employees experiencing pain from their period or menopause. Is this an indication of a more progressive industry going forward? 

CD Projekt Red has had its fair share of turbulence in recent years, and rightfully so. 

In the run up to the release of its flagship title, Cyberpunk 2077, the studio entered a mandatory ‘crunch period’ where developers were forced to work six days a week under extreme stress.  

Following the ensuing debacle with the game’s car-crash release in 2020, and a fever pitch of criticism surrounding company mismanagement, CD Projekt Red has strived to create a healthier, more ‘employee-friendly’ culture to underpin future projects. 

A week after further assurance that the studio is done with crunch practices, it has introduced a policy allowing menstrual leave for employees suffering with period pain. 

CD Projekt Red’s new menstrual leave policy 

Already garnering a lot of support online, the policy will permit employees to take as much time as needed away from work to recover – whether that be hours, or days – much like regular sick leave. 

‘We’re proud to offer menstrual leave to employees,’ said CD Projekt Red’s PR chief Ola Sondej. ‘Team members can now focus on their comfort & health by taking time off when suffering from period pain… it’s all about inclusivity & fostering a supportive workplace.’ 

Having been officially implemented at the turn of the month, the policy stemmed from close observations of CD Projekt Red’s sister company, GOG. The PC game storefront became one of the first gaming companies to offer menstrual leave in 2022, and CD Projekt Red was quickly convinced of the benefits.

Menstrual leave will be fully paid with time-scales negotiable, ensuring employees do not feel pressured to work through bouts of pain or discomfort. Sondej believes this will be a huge boon for the morale of the studio’s development team, as the company continues to make strides towards becoming more inclusive.

‘I think the biggest impact does not stem from the fact that you can take a day off when you feel physically unwell. It stems from the fact that you work at a place that actually notices that this issue exists. It does make me feel more confident,’ she says. 

The notion of this new workplace mechanic, though fairly new in its conception, could well be an effective way of targeting stigmas concerning periods and menopause.  

In such a traditionally male-dominated industry, this should hopefully provide a springboard for a larger reckoning to upend gaming’s murky past.

Is gaming undergoing a more inclusive transformation? 

Aside from the abhorrent revelations which came from a two-year investigation into Activision Blizzard, the wider industry has had real problems when it comes to inclusivity and prioritising results over staff wellbeing. 

There are promising signs recently, however, that the tide maybe turning somewhat, and that oppressive work conditions and toxic cultures are gradually diminishing. 

On top of CD Projekt Red ousting crunch periods, Japanese giant GameFreak and Eidos-Montreal are both offering optional four-day working weeks, with the latter citing ‘more humane and sustainable work practices’ as its primary motivation. 

Elsewhere, Resident Evil creators Capcom have raised company employee salaries by 30% and made efforts to improve communication between management and staff by overhauling its HR department.

The aforementioned Activision Blizzard, though still embroiled in several controversies, has hired a female Vice President of Culture, Jessica Martinez, and is swapping insecure contracts for 1,100 new full-time jobs as of this month. 

Though there’s still plenty of work to be done, this year in particular shows a clear appetite from gaming studios to address the industry’s deep-rooted issues with inclusivity.  

Not all studios will go beyond mere tokenism, but continued change at this rate could quickly bring about new industry standards and public pressure for all to partake. We’ve got our fingers crossed for more of the same.