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Period leave doesn’t hamper work or affect employability

There was a worry that such a policy would hamper businesses, create resentment among the male staff and perhaps also discourage companies from employing women. However, this fear has proved to be misplaced.

All women (including transgender people) can avail of up to 10 days of period leave in a year.

This announcement by food aggregator Zomato on August 7 invited sharp reactions from various quarters, including women.

Many were divided on the equitability of this move.

There was a worry that such a policy would hamper businesses, create resentment among the male staff and perhaps also discourage companies from employing women.

Zomato, however, is not the first to announce such a policy.

Tata Steel and digital start-up Gozoop, too, have a period leave policy in place.

And their experience is that these concerns are misplaced.

Gozoop introduced period policy as a trial in 2017. Three years on, it is still in place.

“We introduced it as any other policy at a time when it had no precedent. We put the policy on what we call a probation,” says Rohan Bhansali, co-founder of Gozoop.

His experience is that the policy did not hamper work and, on the contrary, helped build a sense of pride for not just the women but also for male employees.

Tata Steel has been offering one period leave every month within the sick leave quota since August 2018.

The leave can be availed of simply through an intimation to the superior concerned, without need for any other approval.

The company offers the leave to all women employees, including its factory workforce.

“We have not experienced any instance of misuse or absenteeism,” says the Tata Steel spokesperson about the argument that the policy could be misused.

“There is scope of misuse in all policies and leave provisions,” the spokesperson adds.

Other arguments against the policy are that it will result in reverse gender discrimination and reduced employability of women, especially because women are allowed maternity leaves, and in government jobs one year of childcare leave for two children.

In some public sector utilities, the leave duration is further extended as part of employee welfare measures.

Journalist Ameesha Prabhu, CEO, Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN), disagrees.

“I do not think a biological factor should be reason for anyone to discriminate while hiring women.

“We work with a lot of retailers and I have not heard anyone say they do not want to hire them for ‘women problem’.” she says.

TRRAIN helps upskill and train employees for the retail industry.

Prabhu says in the retail industry, there is an unspoken understanding that you can take period leave.

“Discomfort is the main factor why women would want to stay home on those days.

“It is a beautiful understanding that one shares with the store manager or reporting manager,” she adds.

Bhansali, however, remains sceptical if period leave is the right policy for all organisations.

“I would not recommend this for everybody. One has to see if it works for your organisation; you need to have a culture to hold it.”

He suggests, “Those who are willing to try it should put it on probation like we did, and see if it works.”

His experience is that there is no correlation between women’s employability and period leave.

“Our share of women in total employee strength has only increased since 2017.

“The policy has not deterred the organisation from hiring more women in any way.”

Image used for representation purpose only

Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

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