Why I introduced a Menstrual Leave Policy in my organisation?
Menstrual leave is a leave available to all female employees of the organisation as an optional, paid leave, while they are menstruating and are unable to go to work for the same reason.
Over the years, as an employee, as a manager and then as the owner of an organisation, I have seen multiple female coworkers feel anguished on particular days of their menstrual week. Their effort to reach office on those days were solely motivated by a feeling of obligation toward the organisation and not due to a sense of commitment. That attendance might not result in much actual output. Or even if it does, at what cost is the question we should ask. The obligatory attendance in my view is unhelpful for the organisation while its detrimental to the well-being of the employees since it compels them through an avoidable strain.
So, a menstrual leave made perfect sense to me.
However, the very first anticipation before the introduction of such a policy stood evident. The leave would begin the debate on whether it created an empowering space for women or did it send a message that women were the weaker sex and needed extra protection.
Menstrual leave does not make women weaker. Men and women have biologically differences and the differences have manifestation. And someone wise has said that different does not mean inferior. It’s only natural to acknowledge the differences and make effective space for it.
Some women may not be uncomfortable during menstruation. However, that is an exception and not the rule. The vast majority of female coworkers and employees that I have interacted with, reported to have really struggled during their periods, to overcome the period-associated bodily discomforts and mood disturbances to be able to focus on work.
Menstrual leave is optional. But it’s definitely an equitable approach, considering the biological difference between men and women.
Another important part to menstrual leave is that, I feel it will actually reduce the taboo surrounding its by directly addressing it. Many women feel uncomfortable even when discussing it. Whereas, this policy will enable women to come forward and ask for menstrual leave. No woman should feel ashamed for a normal, biological process in the 21st century of equality and women empowerment.
The argument that by introducing this women will gain the right to misuse this kind of leave also seems to be a little skewed. By that logic, every leave, including a sick leave, can be misused, equally by male and female employees. Ultimately, an organisation has to trust its employees that they would be using the available leaves out of need, which is how they were intended and not out of leisure.
As an employer, I feel it is my responsibility to help my most important assets, viz., my employees to deliver their best. It will not only create an open communication channel within the organisation but also give them a sense of liberty to do things as and when they want to. Menstruation leave is just one or two days in the month when a woman should not compulsorily be forced to work when they do not feel like.