Tiff Regarding the Period Leave in the Private and Public Sector
Author: Shaika Siddique
Designation: Law Student
Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
PERIOD LEAVE AND THE DEBATE AROUND IT
Ever since Deepinder Goyal, the founder and CEO of Zomato announced for the tens days annually paid leave for its women and transgender employees, a debate has spurred around both appreciating and condemning it. The announcement for the same was made on 8th August, 2020. The move is being applauded by many and stated as a progressive step in destigmatising periods and making a more inclusive and cordial workplace environment for its female employees. However the number of those considering it as a regressive step is not few, the move is being criticized for an umpteen number of reasons. Reasons such as period leaves will end up exacerbating the workplace conditions which are already pro male. It will lead to the gendering of workplace.
RELIGION AND THE STIGMA ASSOCIATED WITH PERIOD
India, a place where women is considered to be the incarnation of Goddess like Saraswati, Laxmi, Kali among others, and are worshipped by people. However shockingly these same people show a feeling of disgust when the same Goddess is on her periods. It is nothing more than a concept laden with hypocrisy. The practice which is highly prevalent amongst the Brahmans, where even today a girl or women on her periods is considered as impure and could not do or touch religious things. It is beyond comprehension as to how the same lady is worthy of being worshipped for twenty three days of a month and treated as an outcast for the remaining seven days of the month. Even in Islam women on her menstruation is prohibited from touching the holy book or offering prayers.
Such is the stigma associated with period that a major chunk of the female population first experience it and then gets to know about it. A topic of utmost importance has been covered under the blanket, for it does not qualify to be decent enough to be discussed publicly.
The recent Supreme Court judgement on the Sabrimala Temple Case , which proscribed the practice of disallowing a women on her periods from visiting the temple is a silent slap on the anachronistic traditions which are based on nothing but hollow and illogical believes.
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
The Constitution of India has various provisions which makes it mandatory for the state to come up with such policies which recognise and address the problems faced by the female citizens.
Article 42 which is the part of Directive Principles Of State policy makes it a duty for the state while making policies to strive for making such laws which is able to secure just and humane conditions at workplace and maternity leave.
Article 15 which though provides that discrimination shall not be done on the basis of sex , however a bare perusal of Article 15 (3) authorizes the state to make special provision for women.
It is appreciating that Zomato with other private organizations are coming up with such provisions for their female employee which is not only constitutionally valid but also sharing the states burden as the same is assigned to the state under the Constitution.
MENSTRUATION BENEFIT BILL, 2017 – A BILL THAT DID NOT SAW THE LIGHT OF THE DAY The Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017 was introduced by Ninong Ering , a Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh. The bill aimed at providing two days paid leave monthly during menstruation to the women working in the public and private sector and better resting facility at the workplace at times of menstruation. The provision also extended to the girls of government school of eighth grade and upwards. Unfortunately the bill never saw the light of the day and lapsed.
FACETIOUS SPECULATIONS SURROUNDING THE “PERIOD LEAVE”
•It will lead to the gendering of workplace – the patriarchal framework under which the organizations are working is nothing latent. The period leave is just another excuse which is contended to strengthen the already existing and deep rooted patriarchal system at work place.
•Women will “misuse” the period leave – this particular allegation is targeting the whole female section of being a liar and an unreliable source for their experience which they go through every month. However the making of laws or policies cannot be brought to a halt on the assumption of them being misused by their beneficiaries.
•Period leave is seemingly unnecessary and could have been easily accommodated within Medical leave – being on periods is not a medical issue hence the same cannot be categorised under medical leave. It is all about being productive in a different way in those times.
•Implementation of the Period leave will be detrimental to the women as it will affect their chances of being employed – South Korea and Japan are among few of those countries which have granted period leaves to their female employees since world war 2 and the high percentage of women workforce in these countries prove the point that period leave has nothing to do with the preference of hiring a female employee.
•Earlier too women have been going to work without availing any such leave – firstly something which has been unfair cannot be a justification for its continuance. Secondly equally competent women demanding equal pay for equal work don’t have to fake smiling even when she is in extreme pain that she does not menstruate, something in opposition to nature.
ZOMATO NOT THE FIRST ONE TO GRANT PERIOD LEAVE Prior to Zomato various organizations have extended this humane period leave to its female employee on every first day of their menstrual cycle. Organization such as Cultural Machine and Gozoop has been providing the same to their female employees since long back. Even in the eastern state of Bihar government female employees are given two days off every month during their monthly cycle since 1992 under the Casual Leave Act.