From the day Zomato announced 10 day Period Leaves every year for its female staff, conversations around women at work, equality and discrimination uproared yet again. While some are in support, some were in total dismissal. As per those who disagree, this step will wipe all the efforts of creating equal opportunity for women at work.
The varied perspectives made us at HROne wonder, if this is a regressive or a progressive move? But, then we were reminded of something very rightly said by Priyanka Chopra, “Women have always asked for equal cerebral opportunity.” Biologically, women and men are made differently and the agenda was never about that; it has always been about equal cerebral opportunities.
All this is a part of employee satisfaction, loyalty and output. So, in this blog, we tell you how objections against this are fallacious and what can employees and leaders do about it!
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2017, Ninong Ering, a former Lok Sabha Member from Arunachal Pradesh proposed a Private member bill- The Menstrual Benefits Bill of 2017 in which a 2 days leave provision was made for women.
But, nothing was done about it!
What can employees do?
The women and men who were not in favor of this move commented on social platforms as, “Why not sick leaves?”, “Why can’t periods be treated normally?”, “This will only lead to more discrimination.”, “Why are women given such special treatment?”
- Discrimination prevails because we let it. While some women may be as normal as any other day on these days, MANY AREN’T. So, don’t make your colleagues feel guilty of taking a period leave even when they need it.
- Understand that sick leaves are for illness and women get their periods every month. There is a huge difference between both of them.
- Period Leaves are not a way to give women special treatment. It is a company’s way of showing care to their employees. Ones on period leaves are going to find comfort in their beds with a hot mug of coffee, it is not like they are taking leaves to go on a trip.
- The employees must also try not to take these leaves if they feel alright. They can request to get their leave replaced by work from home on such days.
- They must also apply for work from home or period leave whatever they have opted duly so that the online payroll software in India can process the right amount and not mark them absent for the day.
The Figures are Shocking!
The current debate is revolving around formal sector employees that includes only 4% of women as 96% of women are employed in informal sector.
They barely enjoy any employment benefits and hence will stay deprived from this in the years to come!
What Can Leaders Do?
Something as progressive as Period leaves would be considered quite progressive in an ‘ideal world’. However, the world we live in right now is not even close to ideal. We all need to change our thoughts and of those around us. This can increase discrimination currently but not reinforcing it would just magnify the whole stigma around mensturation. It will certainly make us far more regressive as a society, and as a workplace.
As leaders in your respective organisations, here are some small cues you can pick-
- Do away the existing stigmas like asking potential female employees if they are thinking of starting a family
- Include Period Leaves under the types of leaves tab in your HR and payroll software
- Make more inclusive policies, believe in them and do your best to change the prejudices against them, at least within your organisation
- Revise all the policies that give space to the toxic work culture and patriarchy to mushroom
- Use your HR software to actively communicate the changes you made in the policies to really start breaking the stereotypes
Besides, make sure you request your online payroll software vendor to add the period leave type. This will help the women who have severe pain, nausea, heavy bleeding, headache get paid for, when they take an off because of their periods.
Period leaves are just one of the many steps that are to be taken to make businesses more employee-friendly. To begin with, let’s stop pressurising anyone (not just women) to chin up and power through days when their body needs comfort. Let’s treat Period Leaves given by Zomato and countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan as an exemplary step for others to follow.
And bring the day when empathy will win over discrimination closer to us!