Period Leave Gains Momentum
In recent years, the concept of “period leave” has gained significant attention, raising questions about its relevance and impact. This article explores the evolution of period leave policies worldwide and their implications for the workforce, with a particular focus on India.
The Culture Machine Acquisition
In 2019, Culture Machine, a pioneering company in period leave policies, was acquired by another agency. Unfortunately, this new entity did not continue the period day off policy. This development left many wondering about the fate of this innovative workplace benefit.
GoZoop’s Commitment to Period Leave
However, GoZoop, another trailblazing company, maintained the period day off policy. This commitment to menstrual leave is part of a broader trend that is gaining momentum across the globe.
Spain Leads the Way
Earlier this year, Spain made headlines by becoming the first European country to introduce a policy on period leave. Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero heralded this change, emphasizing that “the days of going to work in pain are over.” The policy grants up to three days off, with a doctor’s note, and even offers the possibility of extending the leave to five days.
Spain’s progressive stance on period leave has resonated globally. Similar policies now exist in various countries, including China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Zambia, and Mexico. These initiatives reflect a growing recognition of the importance of addressing menstrual health in the workplace.
In India, the adoption of period leave policies began in 2017, with major private companies such as Zomato, Swiggy, and Byju’s leading the way. Neelanjana Banerjee, head of content creation at BharatShakti, a Delhi-based media startup, successfully proposed a period leave policy in her organization in 2021. This change marked a significant shift in workplace culture, making it more inclusive and supportive of women’s health.
Government bodies in India have also shown support for menstrual leave. In January 2023, the Indian state of Kerala granted menstrual leaves in all state-run universities. Although a legal petition seeking menstrual leave for students and workers across India was dismissed, a Parliamentary Committee later urged lawmakers to consider enacting a law guaranteeing period leave. This move was seen as a step toward greater gender equity and workplace wellness.
Gender Equity and Productivity
Advocates argue that paid menstrual leaves are essential for recognizing the well-being of employees and promoting gender equity. Sudha Shashwati, a consultant psychologist and professor in Dehradun, emphasizes that workplaces should not exclude those who menstruate, highlighting the importance of gender-inclusive policies.
“It is an issue of wellness, trusting employees and gender equity, and these impact all of us,” said Shashwati.
Paid menstrual leaves are a recognition that the workplace is not meant to be just for those who possess the male body.”
Nikhil Naren, an assistant professor at Jindal Global Law School, also points out that granting period leave can positively impact productivity by allowing women to take the time they need for self-care.
“I think women forced to work when their body is not keeping up have higher chances of affecting their productivity,” he said.
It’s important to note that period leave policies have their share of detractors. Some argue that such policies may inadvertently reinforce gender stereotypes and hinder the feminist agenda for equal opportunity. Journalist Barkha Dutt, for example, expressed concerns about the potential implications of period leave policies.
On the other hand, supporters of period leave policies, like Chetna Negandhi, director of brand communications for GoZoop, emphasize the importance of feeling heard and cared for in the workplace. She believes that these policies provide women with the comfort and space they need during their menstrual cycles without compromising their professional responsibilities.
A Broader Shift
The evolution of period leave policies around the world reflects a broader shift toward recognizing and supporting menstrual health in the workplace. These policies continue to spark debates and discussions, highlighting the complex interplay between gender equity, productivity, and workplace culture.