Indian Food Delivery Company, Zomato offers "period leave" for women and transgender employees.
Food delivery company Zomato announced on Saturday that it would give female employees, including transgender people, up to 10 days of "period leave" per year, as part of an effort to combat what it said was a stigma around the issue. The company's CEO said the move is to "foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance".
"There shouldn't be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave," Zomato chief executive Deepinder Goyal said in an email to staff on Saturday. "You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day."
"A note for men – our female colleagues expressing that they are on their period leave shouldn’t be uncomfortable for us. This is a part of life, and while we don’t fully understand what women go through, we need to trust them when they say they need to rest this out. I know that menstrual cramps are very painful for a lot of women – and we have to support them through it if we want to build a truly collaborative culture at Zomato," said Goyal.
Founded in 2008, Gurugram-based Zomato is one of India's best-known companies, with more than 5,000 employees.
In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned a decades-long ban on women of menstrual age entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, leading to a nationwide debate about women's rights.
Here's the full-text of Goyal's email:
How many times have you had to send a message to your team saying “unwell today – taking the day off" and having to answer concerned questions about your health with a feeble “stomach upset / weakness etc." when you really wanted to say “on my period, terrible cramps – need a heating pad, some chocolate and a lot of green tea (or something stronger) so I’m taking the day off"?
At Zomato, we want to foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance. Starting today, all women (including transgender people) at Zomato can avail up to 10 days of period leaves in a year.
-Why 10? Most women have ~14 menstrual cycles in a year. Adjusting for the probability of you having your periods on a weekend, you can now rightfully avail 10 extra leaves compared to men
-You can only take one-period leave for each menstrual cycle
-Zomato understands that men and women are born with different biological realities. It is our job to make sure that we make room for our biological needs, while not lowering the bar for the quality of our work and the impact that we create
-There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave. You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day
-In case you face any unnecessary harassment, or distasteful comments from men or women about the fact that you applied for a period leave, or that you are vocal about it, please report them to firstname.lastname@example.org – our prevention of sexual harassment (POSH) team will quickly spring into action
-While we are introducing this leave to build a more inclusive work culture, a word of necessary advice –
-These leaves should only be availed if you are really unable to attend to work
-If you do need to take the day off, please apply for the leave on the HR portal, communicate to your team that you will be unavailable, reschedule your meetings and proactively communicate if deadlines are getting impacted
-Do not abuse these leaves or use them as a crutch to take time out for other pending tasks
-Take care of yourself – regular focus on fitness and diet has a positive impact on every bit of your physical and mental health"
A note for men – our female colleagues expressing that they are on their period leave shouldn’t be uncomfortable for us. This is a part of life, and while we don’t fully understand what women go through, we need to trust them when they say they need to test this out. I know that menstrual cramps are very painful for a lot of women – and we have to support them through it if we want to build a truly collaborative culture at Zomato.
Stay calm, and strong.
Now that the concept of maternity leave has gained acceptance and has been written into labour laws in most parts of the world, including India (Maternity Benefit Act, 1961), ‘period leaves’, too which relates to a physiological process unique to women—and one encountered every month from puberty to menopause—deserve similar attention. Currently, menstrual leave is available to women in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and some provinces in China.
With rising social awareness about the hardships women face in the workplace, there is a gradual realization that menstrual concerns cannot be brushed under the carpet.
Zomato has paved the way by offering menstrual leave as a way of showing concern for their welfare. Obviously, not every company would agree on this, but there’s no running away from the fact that it’s a definite concern that better be addressed. Ideally, there should be no stigma attached to openly talking about it, and a woman should be able to take a sick leave if she is having a particularly tough period.
Employers too should explore alternate options to granting period leave. One potential way is to increase the no. of casual or sick leaves for their female workforce. Also, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how work-from-home can easily be managed particularly if the circumstances are distressing. Leveraging current day technology, work from home alternatives will help millions of women to be able to see through their tough period days.