As the name suggests, menstrual leave is leave granted to a woman during her period and can be either paid or unpaid, depending on the company’s policies. The reason being that according to a study 20% of the 40% of the working female population experience a condition called dysmenorrhea that causes tremendous pain during menstruation.
Largely, menstrual leaves have stirred up a lot of controversy because the are often considered a sign of a woman’s inefficiency at work or as sexist. Supporters, however, compare it to maternity leave and as a promotion of gender equality.
So, let’s delve into what it is.
A stepping stone for a more equal society or trivialization of women’s issues?
Opposers argue that such a policy creates an unfair advantage for women in the workplace, and may prejudice employers to not hire women because despite menstrual leave being just a day or two in a month, it can cause an overall drop in productivity at work. Moreover, they argue that menstrual leave is inherently discriminatory in its nature, and works against the very essence of gender equality, by fueling the preconceived notion that women are weaker than men.
People have additionally pointed out that undue advantage can be taken of this policy by faking symptoms. Critics also argue that in developing countries like India, where there already is gender inequality, such a policy may be more detrimental than beneficial.
However, any change or revolution is often met with protests and so would a policy like this one. Supporters of this policy state that this can be a giant step towards empowering women by creating a safe work environment where they can voice their concerns and grievances without any hesitation. This, in turn, becomes a long-term investment for the company ensuring employee satisfaction and thereby increasing productivity. While critics state that women could misuse this policy by faking symptoms, not only can the same be applicable to other illnesses, but creating a successful company requires basic employee-employer trust.
Menstrual leave policies exist in some countries, and private sector companies can choose to implement these policies as well. Larger companies like Nike, Coexist, etc. have already implemented such policies. It is a decision that can be made in tandem with employees and management to ensure maximum satisfaction for the company and it’s team.