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A Mumbai-based digital media agency has just announced that it will be offering staff “First Day of Period Leave.” They will have the option to take this day off, in the hope to help end the stigma and taboo that surrounds menstruation in India.

Deana Bates investigates what this might achieve for female workers and whether a similar decision could be made in the UK.

Taking A Break

Culture Machine, a digital media company in Mumbai, announced yesterday that they would be introducing a First Day of Period Leave. They also created a video to publicise the importance of taking the first day off if women are in pain.

The company explained that they had noticed female employees calling in sick on the first day of their period due to pain. Their employees often lied about why they needed to take the day off because they were embarrassed to admit they were in pain.  To tackle this problem and to ensure female employees felt appreciated, they granted their female staff a day of leave, should they wish to take it.

Some critics have claimed that the move could have a catch 22 for women if this policy becomes widespread, with some suggesting that male employees will be more likely to be hired as they will require less annual leave. India currently suffers from a huge disparity in employment rates, with 79% of the workforce currently being male.

Despite this, a petition started by Culture Machine to make the leave mandatory continues to gain signatures.

Why Make This Decision?

Many scientific studies have previously shown that women may struggle to concentrate when experiencing period pain. They may also be less productive and more prone to making mistakes. For some companies, the option of leave would not only benefit the employee, but the employer as well.

Davleena S. Majumdar, president of HR at Culture Machine, commented:

“We have our YouTube channel called Blush that tackles themes related to women’s issues and aims at empowering women. So, it’s only right that we provide the women who work with us with a supportive work environment and considerate policies.”

“I feel that productivity is a state of mind. If our women take a small break and come back refreshed, I am sure it will increase the productivity in the long run.”

Will The UK Follow Suit?

The UK currently does not have law in place to grant women First Day Of Period Leave, although last year it was reported that a company in Bristol had granted women menstrual leave. In this instance, women would be expected to work back the time they took off for leave but they would stay at home whilst suffering without the need of a sick note.

Elsewhere, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong all currently have law in place that allows women to take days off if they are experiencing period pain.

Deana comments:

“Employers need to be aware of the pain that their female employees may be in. It is encouraging to see women being granted the right to take period leave, but it could still be some time before the UK sees anything like this.”

“I also hope that no employees are discriminated against for choosing to take this leave. If they were, they may be entitled to compensation.”

Written by Deana Bates.

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