Menstruation has always been considered a 'hush-hush' topic in India since time immemorial. According to research, 20% of women experience debilitating menstrual symptoms such as cramps, nausea, and fatigue that hamper daily activities. Studies have shown that period cramps lower work productivity by nine days per year on average. Given the stigma and difficulties associated with menstruation, many countries, including Japan, South Korea, and Italy, have implemented menstrual leave as part of women employees' leave policies.
Menstrual Leaves In India
Since 1992, Bihar has been the only state in India to provide women with two days of special menstrual leave under its Human Resources guidelines. Furthermore, the Menstruation Benefits Bill, 2018, introduced in Parliament, provides two days of menstrual leave and improved rest facilities at work but is yet to receive assent.
In India, despite increased period awareness, menstrual health rights lack enough to spur change. Nevertheless, some companies in India have taken the initiative to break the stigma associated with menstruation and make workplaces inclusive for women. Few of these companies include Zomato, Swiggy, Culture Machine, Gozoop, and Byju's. We take pride in saying that Medly India is one of those pioneers to recognize the need to address the issue.
The Debate Over Menstrual Leave Policy
Everyone must understand that the menstruation topic is neither too insignificant to be completely brushed under the carpet nor too special to become a cause for discrimination.
Some women support paid menstrual leave due to the excruciating pain and disturbance to professional life that period pain causes. Others believe that menstrual leave will exacerbate male preconceptions about female weakness and negatively impact women's hiring and promotion prospects due to the misconception that women may become liabilities to the organization.
Many people also argue that menstrual leaves hinder business and can be economically damaging. But in reality, menstrual leave policies make a lot of economic sense, even if the benefits aren't immediately visible. It boosts employee satisfaction and their commitment to their work and organization. Menstrual leaves improve people's faith and, as a result, their productivity at work.
Menstrual Leave Policy At Medly
As for employee policies, Medly India has "carved out a new path" by implementing the menstrual leave policy in January 2022. As a part of this policy, menstruators can take up to six days off in a year. The menstrual leaves are in addition to the earned leaves that employees are entitled to receive. The policy aims to create a positive approach to menstruation and support employee well-being while boosting the organization's effectiveness. Without such a policy, some had to choose between working through menstrual symptoms or taking earned leaves.
Apart from the six period leaves, we have the flexibility to work from home. The office has a sleeping room where one can lie down when needed.
What Triggered Us To Have The Menstrual Leave Policy?
The idea was conceived during the discussion in the Slack group for female employees. When one of our female coworkers suggested that we have menstrual leaves at Medly India, we thought, "Why not?!" Our talented Employee Experience team kicked off the process of implementing the policy at Medly right away. The team proactively researched to know more about the history and facts about menstrual leave in India and worldwide.
In the research we conducted, our team found that the women's labor-force participation in India has been steadily declining, from 42.7% in 2004-05 to 23.3% in 2017-18. This is true despite increased literacy and declining fertility rates. Challenging and unpleasant workplaces could be one of the reasons for the sharp decline in women's labor-force participation. Menstrual leaves can help bridge the gap and encourage more women to enter the workforce. After all this research, we were convinced that it is high time we normalize period talk at the workplace and have a provision that allows females to be comfortable during their periods.
Welcoming The Menstrual Leave Policy At Medly
At Medly India, we have a culture of belongingness and sensitivity towards each other, and we knew that this change would be well received, and we were absolutely right! Our male coworkers were equally excited and welcoming of the policy. We believe that our menstrual leave policy is a valuable perk, and it's something that we're proud to offer our employees. Around 50% of our female employees have applied for menstrual leaves since the policy's inception.
Over To Our Female Employees
Medly implemented the menstrual leave policy in January 2022. Since then, I've availed one menstrual leave. In my whole career, none of my previous employers have ever offered menstrual leaves. I'm delighted that Medly recognized the need for a menstruation leave policy for its female employees. Of course, the holiday can't take away their pain, but it does give us a break on the days they are most uncomfortable. We also have sanitary pads available in each restroom with proper disposal provisions and a sleeping room for that time of the month. I am proud to be a part of Medly for having adopted this policy and taking a step towards breaking the stigma attached to it.
Although the idea of period leave does not exist everywhere, trust me, every woman will prefer a day off when her hormones, cramps, back pain, lest to forget, mood swings are at their peak. Women at Medly owe this to the amenable administration that made it possible to break the barrier of using code words to discuss periods when our male colleagues are around. This feeling is liberating in a true sense! Nonetheless, women on their periods will do everything that is needed of them, but recognizing it and allowing them to work according to their bodies' needs is something for which the women of Medly will be indebted to those who ushered in the idea of Menstrual leave.
Ashwini Mutalik Desai
It feels so good to finally be able to apply for leave without feeling guilty or hiding the real cause behind an otherwise sick leave. It helps break taboo directly, without really preaching about it. This is a first time experience for me and it feels really great.
Summing It Up
The menstrual leave policy is just one of the small steps we've taken to make the workplace more inclusive, sensitive, and happy. The introduction of this policy at Medly India is just a small way of normalizing period talks. Discussions regarding menstruation need to move out of women's locker rooms and into the open, where men, children, and colleagues can be involved in personal and professional capacities.
We hope this blog will inspire you to do your bit to break the taboo surrounding menstruation. Alternatively, if you wish to know more about Medly India, you can visit our website at Medly.Tech.