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Menstrual Leave- Far from reality....or Not?

Menstruation has been a private and personal subject even within the family. With the introduction of this policy, it has suddenly become a topic of public attention. But are all discussions in favour of the argument?

Let’s visualise a few typical office scenarios.


Boss – “Shilpa, the client is very happy with your work. He is ready to meet sometime in the next week. We need two days’ rigorous preparation work before meeting. By the way, you had taken First day of Period ( FOP ) leave about 3 weeks ago. What's your date for this month?"

Shilpa will have to disclose the very private details about her menstruation cycle because it's crucial for setting the next meeting.

Example 2.

Conversation at the coffee machine in the same office.

Male employee – “Women employees have the option of FOP leave and stay away from office work. Is this FOP only for office or are they taking off from household chores as well? If the family doesn't care about the female why should the company bother?” 

There is already a silent discrimination at work place when it comes to assigning important projects or tasks. Men are always a better pick because they can stay back and work for long hours, travel on short notice in completely unplanned manner. With women, the company has to take precautions as staff safety is their responsibility and female employees are vulnerable. An introduction of FOP leave policy may categorize women as pampered class of employees in the eyes of male employees. I doubt if women themselves are excited with this announcement. They may not want these privileges and instead work with male employees as equals. The policy is likely to stay on paper as most women may not want to take leave under FOP leave policy to make her menstruation schedule public.

A major part of our society is not mature enough to understand the sensitivity of the subject. There is a risk that this policy may also become a subject of ridicule than to show concern towards our own female colleagues. 

There is also a possibility of FOP leave becoming a tool for nasty bosses to harass female employees and ask them personal question under the pretext of work planning. It may even contradict with “Prevention of Sexual harassment at workplace” policy.

All employees are entitled to a casual leave of 12-15 days in a year. FOP leave I believe will not be an addition to it. Casual leave under FOP shall guarantee a day off for the female employee when it is required for the purpose. Normally, availing casual leave is flexible and at the mercy of your boss. FOP may not be any different even after some uncomfortable questions.

FOP leave should be a part of casual leave entitlement so that there is no burden on the employer and not seen as a privilege for female employees. It shall guarantee female employee leave on the day she needs it.

While it is heartening to see organizations striving to improve the work environment, there are certainly much more ways of doing it than giving an extra day off from work.

About the Author: Kapil Joshi is a Pune based sales trainer and entrepreneur with 9 years of experience in the industry to his credit. He works with companies to improve the productivity of their sales staff and mentors young entrepreneurs. 


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