Zomato erupts the old-forgotten ‘Period Leave’ Debate

  • The Bihar Government has been offering two days of period leave to women employees since 1992.
  • Digital Media startup Culture Machine allows its women employees to take a day off on the first day of their period since 2018.
  • Gozoop, a digital marketing organization, not only gives its female employees a paid leave on the first day of their period, but also supports the educational needs of its employees giving month-long leaves for building professional expertise and sharing educational expenses when required.

On August 8, 2020, Zomato joined the league of companies providing ‘period leave’ policy with its founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal announcing 10 days extra paid leaves a year in a notice to its women and transgender employees.

periods

Zomato understands that men and women are born with different biological realities. It is our job to make sure that we make room for our biological needs, while not lowering the bar for the quality of our work and the impact that we create,” the note said. 

The note ended with a message for male employees specifically –

“…This is a part of life, and while we don’t fully understand what women go through, we need to trust them when they say they need to rest this out.”

According to the Clinical Evidence Handbook published the BMJ Publishing Group, UK, 20 percent of women suffer from symptoms like cramps, bloating, headaches, and nausea that are debilitating enough to hamper their daily activities. Many women suffer from dysmenorrhea, a more severe form of menstrual cramps, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Why is ‘Period Leave’ a matter of debate?

At first, it is not only the men who stand against the introduction of period leaves. Some sections of women also fall under this category who deny the idea stating that it will only prejudice employers against hiring women and lead to their alienation at work. Also, some believe women are capable of functioning at full capacity even during their periods and for the handful of women who do suffer debilitating symptoms, the existing sick leave option is adequate.

The debate is not new and first came into limelight in 2018 when The Menstruation Benefit Bill was tabled a Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier, people who have stood against the policy cited example of Serena Williams who won a major tournament while she was pregnant highlighting that women do not need any “special” treatment. But what came new this time was few men who went on to ask leaves for themselves so that they could take care of their wives and girlfriends during those days, as a way to achieve ‘true equality’.

Is Period Leave Policy a Game Changer at Work after Maternity Leave?

A major section of the formal workforce believes that inclusion of period leaves will make matters worse for women. What they tend to forget is that the formal workforce is designed in a way that excludes women – long work hours that are directly equated with merit and productivity, that leads women to lack of a work-life balance, and few to no child care facilities. These are the major reasons for women dropping out from jobs. The period leave policy along with maternity leave will help in retaining some great minds into the industry and not letting them be confined in four walls.

Other countries that have Menstrual Leave Policy
  1. Nike: Nike added menstrual leave in their code of conduct in 2007. The company even makes their business partners sign a MoU which states that they would abide the directives.
  2. Japan: Japan implemented leaves for women with painful periods as early as in 1947 as per their Labour Standards Law.
  3. Taiwan: An amendment was added to Taiwan’s Act of Gender Equality in Employment in 2013 which allowed female employees three days of menstrual leave in a year along with the 30 half-paid sick leaves which all employees are entitled to.
  4. China: Taking a leave for periods is allowed in several provinces in China.
  5. Indonesia: Women in Indonesia are technically allowed to take 2 days of leave for their period every month. However, this law is not followed many companies.
  6. South Korea: Women in South Korea’s job industry were allowed menstrual leaves since 2001, which came under vicious criticism from the country’s men’s rights activists.

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