Indian food delivery company introduces “period leave”
Zomato, one of India’s biggest food delivery companies, has announced it will grant its female employees ten days of “period leave” each year.
The British Medical Journal in 2019 reported that women lose up to nine days of productivity a year as a result of “presenteeism” during their periods. Period leave—standard in Japan since 1947, and common across other East Asian nations—is the corporate practice of awarding paid leave to female employees during their period, in addition to standard sickness leave.
While a handful of other companies in the country have previously introduced similar policies, Zomato is the most high-profile to do so.
The subject of menstruation remains taboo in many parts of India, and Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said that by introducing the leave he wished to “foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance,” around the subject.
The move has prompted online debate, with some suggesting the entitlement should in fact be 12 days, not ten, and others claiming it is discriminatory against men. Yet others have warned that it could result in women being discriminated against in the workplace as they could be considered to be disabled in some way.
Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research, a non-profit that advocates for women’s rights in India, said that she would welcome any legislation that introduced a nationwide policy of period leave, believing Zomato’s initiative helps to normalize women’s bodies and allows them to take care of their health. “Let society accept who we are and how we are, instead of trying to fight to become what men are,” she said.
“Evidence shows widespread discrimination on various grounds, including ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or beliefs, disability, being over 55 years old, or being a woman,” says Marie-Anne Valfort in her IZA World of Labor article. “Combating [it] requires combining the strengths of a range of anti-discrimination policies while also addressing their weaknesses. In particular, policymakers should thoroughly address prejudice …, stereotypes …, cognitive biases, and attention-based discrimination.”
Read more articles on workplace discrimination.