Food delivery startup Zomato introduced 'period leaves' for its women and transgender employees, a move which it said was aimed at addressing the stigma attached to menstruation.
On August 8, food delivery startup Zomato introduced 'period leaves' for its women and transgender employees. The move, it said, was part of the company's effort to address the stigma attached to menstruation while also acknowledging the biological differences between men and women.
The company said, "all women (including transgender people) at Zomato can avail up to 10 days of period leaves in a year."
Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal said in a note to employees, "There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave. You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day."
The move comes a year after the much-popular food delivery platform rolled out a 26-week paternity leave policy in June 2019.
Stir on social media
However, the menstrual leave introduction by Zomato has yet again stirred up a controversy over whether the policy of period leaves at workplaces is a good or a bad idea. Differing opinions on the issue have polarised people on social media, giving rise to 'for' and 'against' camps.
While some have said the concept of period leaves leads to the furthering of the notion that women are 'weak', others have pointed out that option of availing such leaves is a voluntary one and helps people with painful menstrual cycles. The naysayers also argue that such a policy will only prejudice employers against hiring women and lead to their alienation at work.
Earlier this year, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor's tweet advocating support for menstrual leave for women in public and private workplaces and calling for its support via a petition had also left Twitter divided, with many diverging opinions emerging on the topic.
The severity of period-related pain and cramps (dysmenorrhea) experienced by menstruators varies. Several people suffer from medical conditions which only worsen the already debilitating period pain. The Endometriosis Society of India estimates that nearly 2.5 crore Indian women suffer from endometriosis, a chronic painful disorder that affects roughly 1 in 10 women globally.
But is the idea an altogether new one?
However, while the debate has going on for a very long time now, it would be interesting to note that the concept is not a new one in India. Several companies and workplaces have provided the option of such leaves to female employees. In fact, the Bihar government had introduced a similar option as early as in 1992, as pointed out by Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association in a 2017 article.
She said, "...women employees in Bihar government services have been eligible for two days of leave in a month for this purpose, though not specifically stated, since 1992."
The need for India to introduce a monthly period leave system has been raised time and again. In 2018, Ninong Ering, a Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, had moved a private members’ Bill, ‘the Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017’, which proposed two days of paid menstrual leave every month for women working in the public and private sectors.Countries like Japan and South Korea, among others, have introduced a menstrual leave provision for their employees.