Recently, Kerala government announced that the state government will grant menstrual leave for female students in all state universities under the Department of Higher Education.
Menstrual leave refers to a specific form of time off for those who experience period pains.
- It recommends that workers be given leave from work while menstruating, just as they would for any illness.
- These leaves are not covered and are taken in addition to the usual sick leaves provided to all employees.
- In India, there is no legislative provision for menstrual leave.
Examples from India:
- Zomato in 2020, announced a 10-day paid period of leave per year, and Swiggy and Byjus have also followed suit.
- Among State governments, Bihar and Kerala are the only ones to introduce menstrual leave to women.
- Soviet Russia – In the 1920s and 30s, Soviet Russia relieved menstruating women from paid labour to safeguard their reproductive health, thus originating the idea of formal menstrual leave policy.
- Japan – In 1920s, labour unions in Japan popularised the concept that has stood for more than 70 years now.
- Mandatory self-care leaves as an alternative: Employers should be made to introduce a mandatory self-care leave as an alternative to period leaves for those who cannot avail of the latter. Employees should be able to utilise their self-care leave as they deem fit. This will reduce burnout and increase productivity.
- Self-care leave will also destigmatise menstruation: The names menstrual leave and self-care leave will also destigmatise menstruation and self-care respectively. Further, employers should be made to implement a stringent diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) framework.
- Safeguards menstruators in unorganized sector: A formal menstrual leave policy in the organized sector can act as a catalyst in safeguarding menstruators in the unorganized sector too.