Zomato progresses a step ahead in inclusivity; announces menstrual leaves

Female and transgender employees can take 10 period leaves a year

NEW DELHI: "How many times have you had to send a message to your team saying "unwell today – taking the day off" and having to answer concerned questions about your health with a feeble "stomach upset / weakness" when you really wanted to say “on my period, terrible cramps – need a heating pad, some chocolate and a lot of green tea (or something stronger) so I’m taking the day off”?"

This is how Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal started an interesting letter he sent the employees working at the restaurant aggregator and food-delivery company this Sunday. He was introducing an optional 10-day period leave policy for the women of Zomato, in a progressive step, becoming the third Indian company on-record to take menstrual leaves. Earlier, digital media company Culture Machine and independent digital agency Gozoop had announced such a policy for their female employees, back in 2017.

Zomato is extending this option of taking 10 extra leaves a year during menstruation to its transgender people as well. Any person facing unnecessary harassment or distasteful comments from colleagues for taking a period leave can report them to an internal POSH committee via email.

Goyal wrote, “At Zomato, we want to foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance. Starting today, all women (including transgender people) at Zomato can avail up to 10 days of period leaves in a year. 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.”

In its run to inclusivity, Zomato had earlier announced a 26-week paternity leave as well.

Menstrual leaves became an issue of widespread debate in the country when “The Menstruation Benefit Bill” was tabled by Ninong Ering, a member of parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, in 2018, with forces against it citing increased workplace harassment and gender discrimination at the workplace as a reason.

However, several countries have these policies in place for decades. Japan had passed a law allowing women with debilitating periods to take days off in 1947, more than 20 years after Japanese labour unions started demanding it. Indonesia announced two days of menstrual leave per month under its Labour Act in 2013. As of 2015, women in Zambia are legally entitled to a day off each month during periods and one has the right to prosecute the employer if denied.

In South Korea, not only are female employees entitled to menstrual leave but they are also ensured additional pay if they do not take the menstrual leave that they are entitled to.

In India, as mentioned, the discussion is still in its nascent stages, however, and this decision by Zomato has met with mixed reactions on social media.

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