Zomato's Period Leave Policy - an Appreciable Move or a Disaster?

 “I need to take an off today because I’m sick” Many working women use this sentence almost every month on the first day of their menstrual cycle. For those who still don’t have an idea, women suffer from abdominal pain, leg cramps, backache, and even nausea during their period.

While many women continue the work despite all the pain, some find it extremely difficult to continue. So they often “call in sick”. Since the topic of menstruation is still considered as a taboo in our society, they don’t feel comfortable in opening up on this topic. But looks like things are finally changing because food aggregator Zomato announced its new policy- Period Leave Policy. 

Zomato’s Period Leave Policy

About a month ago, Zomato surprised everyone by announcing its new ‘Paid Period Leave Policy.’ Online restaurant guide and food ordering platform announced 10 days of ‘period leave’ annually for all menstruating employees in the organization. Roughly, 1 leave per cycle will be granted to the employees. 

Apart from women, this policy is also extended to cover cisgender women, non-binary individuals, and transmasculine men. The main objective behind the policy is to help the above-said employees to deal with the discomfort caused by periods. As per Zomato, another reason for introducing the policy is to create a culture of trust, truth, and acceptance.

Taking on a Workplace Taboo

As mentioned earlier, menstruation is a taboo in our society. From years, it is seen as women’s limitation and a barrier in gaining equality in the workplace and even other spheres of life, According to UNICEF, 71% of young women remain unaware of menstruation until their first cycle. This statement alone gives the idea of the stigma associated with a completely normal biological process. But things are changing now, slowly though. Zomato’s announcement is considered a bold move in this direction.

The company’s founder and chief executive officer, Deepinder Goyal, said in a statement to his employees: “There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave. You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails that you are on your period leave for the day.”He added, “This is a part of life.” This move earned kudos from many. People showered this decision with appreciation. It even drew headlines from all over the globe. 

The Hot and Cold Reactions

Like most of the other policies introduced by any company, Zomato’s Period Leave Policy earned a sweet and sour reaction. 

Lavanya Ballal, the social media coordinator for the Indian National Congress party, appreciated Zomato for this policy on Twitter. She wrote, “Most women take pain killers and continue working. Some women find it extremely difficult to work during periods. This won’t take away from the hard-won space that women have gained.”

Angellica Aribam, founder of Femme First Foundation, a non-profit promoting women's political leadership in India also extended her support to this policy on Twitter. She tweeted, “Today one might not be able to wrap their head around #PeriodLeave, like many who protested against maternity leave. But someday in the future, it'll be considered normal and basic.”

Many influencers also took this as an opportunity to urge schools, colleges, other institutions, and organizations to take a lesson from Zomato and do the necessary. 

While all the love and support was extended, the Period Leave Policy also caused debate and earned a lot of negative comments and statements. “The other thing hideous about the idea of period leave is how it turns a normal biological experience into some sort of monumental event, gendering us at the workplace when we have fought so hard to not be gendered,” prominent journalist Barkha Dutt said. 

In another one of her tweets, she wrote, “Sorry Zomato, as woke as your decision on #PeriodLeave is, this is exactly what ghettoizes women and strengthens biological determinism. We cannot want to join the infantry, report war, fly fighter jets, go into space, want no exceptionalism, and want period leave. PLEASE.” 

Read more: Debate on Zomato’s Period Leave Policy 

Personal Note

Being a female myself, I feel that the Period Leave Policy is worth all the appreciation and support. In my school and college time, I have seen my friends throwing up and even losing consciousness on the first day of their period. So the policy for granting leave is much appreciated.

And since the topic of menstruation is still a taboo, I see this policy as a move towards normalizing a completely normal biological process. Finally, men, and society in general, are acknowledging this topic and are actually working towards establishing a safe and comfortable environment for all the menstruating individuals.

However, 10-day leave makes sense when periods are something that happens every month for 4- 5 days? Do the maths and you’’ get an answer whether it was a radical move or just some publicity act.

Read more: Bursting Myths surrounding Menstruation 

Written By -  Neha Kundu

Edited By - Kashish Chadha

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