A high-profile food delivery service is the latest company to enact a paid period leave policy in India.
Zomato, which acquired India’s Uber Eats in January, announced on Saturday that employees who menstruate would be allowed to take up to 10 days off per year to manage their periods. The move is an effort to address stigma in the country where menstruation remains highly taboo and considered dirty or impure due to antiquated traditions and beliefs.
"There shouldn't be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave,” Zomato Chief Executive Deepinder Goyal said in a public email sent to staff on Saturday.
Goyal wants all employees to feel comfortable telling their colleagues they are on period leave, he added.
The policy is receiving mixed reviews. Advocates argue it should include more days off, while critics suggest such policies that categorize it as “special leave” are a step backward for women’s progress in the workplace and could invite gender discrimination.
Should Companies Have Period Leave Policy For Women?@Renuks says, "Saying it's a struggle is the problem that I have. People who cannot deal with it should take a day off. I have a problem with the idea of categorizing it as a special leave."#PeriodLeave#zomato#womenpic.twitter.com/9dL0V0B7FE— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) August 11, 2020
@Zomato@ZomatoIN@zomatocare— Tannu Dayal (@DayalTannu) August 10, 2020
I really wanna know who approved this policy?
If you really wanted to address this issue to help female employees, then first understand the issue.
It's like sanctioning 15 days leave for Maternity leave 😠
How many months in a year we get periods?
The cultural shame attached to menstruation, physical pain, and shortage of period products stop people who menstruate from going to school and working every day around the world. What’s more, as many as 88% of people who get periods in India resort to using unsafe materials instead of sanitary pads to manage their periods.
To address the challenges of menstruation, a small number of Indian companies have period leave policies. Since 1992, employees get two days off annually in Bihar state. Similar period leave policies exist in other Asian countries and several Chinese provinces, but are not yet standard in India.
Zomato is attempting to normalize menstruation in the country by building a more inclusive workplace.
"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," Goyal said. "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."