Move over, maternity leaves. With a renewed emphasis on inducting more women employees in organizations, HR professionals are looking beyond the traditional set of leaves and incorporating customized leaves for women, especially for ‘those days of the month’.
And in this regard, Start-ups are showing the way. There are reasons why start-ups defy traditional policies and succeed to create an impact on the new-age workforce. Flexi-work, casual dress code, work-from-home options are a few examples which the start-up culture has given to the professional world.
Culture Machine, a digital media company has legitimized the 1st day of Period Leave policy, to create a conducive work environment for all women employees. They have also created a video around the importance of taking the day off on the first day of periods.
"As we move towards a more progressive and inclusive workspace, I think it's high time that new age companies start talking about menstruation and treat this as a natural process. It is also an initiative to normalize talk around periods and work towards a solution that works for both the parties. The policy will be functional in all our offices across the globe soon," said Devleena Majumder, HR Head at Culture Machine.
And Culture Machine is not the first company in India.
IndustryARC, Hyderabad-based market research firm which provides analytics, research and consulting (ARC) has an Mentrual Leave (ML) in place. It has even been incorporated in the employee guidelines handbook. Employees just need to simply drop a mail to the HR and reporting manager with the subject line “ML Request” and mention if they are taking a leave of 1 or 2 days.
Gozoop, a digital media company based out of Mumbai introduced official menstrual leave policy starting this women's day. In the policy, they also have an option to Work-from-home every month. The idea was to create a workplace that is more comfortable and happy for the female employees. The purpose of this policy initiative is to create a positive approach to menstruation and the menstrual cycle that empowers women and men and supports the effectiveness and well-being of the organization.
Global take on Menstrual Leave
Last year, a British company called Coexist has allowed women to take leave during their period as part of its “period policy,” aimed at making the pain of the menstrual cycle easier for its employees.
The Bristol-based firm said it wants to “tap into its employees’ natural cycle to create a happier and healthier working environment.” The company, which has 17 female members of staff and only seven male, will allow women to be more flexible with their working hours during their period, and any time off will not be treated as sick leave.
Many other countries have done it as part of their law and the question of whether paid menstrual leaves should be provided or not isn't new. Japan implemented this as a part of its work policy in 1947. A few countries followed suit; Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Zambia also have introduced the concept of menstrual leaves. While Zambia provides for a day a month, and Taiwan does it on an annual basis - 3 leaves per year to its women employees. And Italy is mulling to introduce this as a mandate for all organizations. The lower house of Italy’s Parliament has started discussing a draft law that, if approved, will mandate companies to grant three days of paid leave each month to female employees who experience painful periods.
How you manage MLs is important
But organizations also need to be careful as, if MLs are not tracked well, disharmony could be an outcome in the team. Some might talk about being 'bias' towards women, or some might point fingers at this policy saying this might impede women's participation in the corporate sector as organizations will now be wary of hiring women. IndustryARC has clearly defined how the leaves will work. Women employees need to inform when they shall be compensating the leaves in the ‘succeeding consecutive weekends to complete the pending work. If the MLs are not compensated within the fortnight, they will be considered as paid or unpaid leave depending on the leave balance of the employee.’
In Zambia, if women on their menstrual leave are seen doing anything that goes against the reason for their leave, their employment is terminated.
"This is a very thoughtful step, we are built on trust and empathy towards each other. As long as we as an organization trust our employees with utmost faith and understand each other, I think there will be very little room for someone to actually misuse the leave," said Debleena.
It's not a taboo, but women are reluctant to even acknowledge that there is something called 'period'. It's time to change - change the mindset, and be empathetic.
A small change can make a whole lot of difference!