India has one of the lowest female participation in the workforce and it is less than 30 percent.
A bill that will give women working in private or public sector a provision to get two days of paid menstrual leave each month was tabled in Lok Sabha, but it could prove to be detrimental.
Not only will this mean additional 24 leaves for women, but also it will mean loss of 24 days across companies for all the female workforce.
Sonal Arora, Vice-President, TeamLease Services said that menstrual leave for women is a rather misguided attempt. Inclusion of women in workforce cannot be achieved by such random tactics.
“Women in any case have the option of taking a sick leave or personal day should they really require this support. Not only is it condescending but also of limited efficacy because less than 10 percent of India’s female workforce works in the organised sector, the remaining 90 percent women are either in the unorganised sector or agricultural sector or self-employed where they will not get any such benefit,” she added.
In July 2017, digital media company Culture Machine India allowed female employees to avail of leave on the first day of their menstrual cycle in an attempt to create a conducive work environment for all women employees.
Globally, some countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Indonesia grant leave on the basis of a medical certificate or allot three days a year for it. A senior human resource official with a large conglomerate explained that it may not be viable for companies to allow all women to take two days leave each month.
“If it is mandated by law, all companies may be required to give it as an official HR policy. However, this could have serious business consequences considering us and several other large firms have more than 35 percent women in the workforce,” she added.
Among countries, Japan was one of the first ones to allow women to avail leaves for painful menstrual cycles. However, they do not have a fixed policy for the number of days that can be taken and individual companies decide on that.
According to a World Bank report, India has one of the poorest performances in terms of female participation in the workforce and ranked 120th among 131 nations surveyed. In the total workforce, women are estimated to be between 26-28 percent in the present date.Among other benefits for women, Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 has increased maternity leaves from three months to six months. This new law is applicable to all establishments having 10 or more employees and will be applicable only for the first two children.