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KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Menstruation benefit bill
  • Women sexual reproductive and menstrual right bill
  • Right to menstrual hygiene and paid leave bill
  • Parliamentary debate and Supreme Court’s opinion
  • Critical and comparative Analysis of Paid Menstrual Leave

INTRODUCTION:

A workplace policy that acknowledges the mental and physical difficulties that people may encounter throughout their menstrual cycles is paid menstrual leave, sometimes referred to as period leave or menstrual leave. Employees may use paid time off to treat symptoms including headaches, exhaustion, mood swings, and cramping thanks to this policy. It strives to promote gender equality and employee well-being while acknowledging the significance of meeting menstrual health issues in the workplace. Although the idea of menstruation  leave has been around for decades in some nations, there is a rising discussion about its implementation on a worldwide scale as a part of larger initiatives to establish more welcoming and encouraging work environments.

MENSTRUATION BENEFIT BILL (2017):

Features:

  • It recognises that women may have discomfort or health problems related to their menstruation, and paid leave guarantees that they can take time off without fear of losing their jobs.
  • Women’s health depends on having access to clean, sanitary restrooms with the right tools for managing menstruation hygiene.
  • To make sure that companies had these essential facilities for women to use during their menstruation.
  • The stigma of menstruation must be broken via education and awareness campaigns. The bill sought to promote a more understanding and encouraging work environment by putting in place programmes to teach about menstrual health and hygiene.
  • It included provisions to lessen the financial strain on women by helping to pay for menstrual hygiene products or other associated health expenses, though the exact details may differ.

Provisions:

Section 4: It allows women to take 4 days of paid leave during menstruation. They can also opt to work during this time and receive overtime pay instead.

Section 5: It grants women in establishment two thirty minutes break periods per day during menstruation, up to four days per cycle. Establishments with above 50 employees must offer a creche and inform women of this benefits upon hire.

Section 8: It gives women the right to manage their menstruation to access benefits under the bill and allows them to seek help from workplace grievance committees if they face difficulties.

Section 10: Penalties are described for both refusing menstruation leave and preventing women from obtaining it. Offenders  may face a fine of ten thousand to fifty thousand rupees in addition to a one to three months imprisonment.

Benefits:

  • It offers paid time off to women during their menstrual cycle, enabling them to take care of their health without worrying about money.
  • By recognising menstruation as a normal physical process, it promotes menstrual hygiene and awareness.
  • It reduces the stigma associated with menstruation by normalising conversations about it and the regulations that surround it 
  • It permits women to get the rest they need during their menstrual cycle, which promotes their general well-being and productivity.
  • It promotes workplaces that are more welcoming and sensitive to the requirements of women in terms of health, which may boost employee happiness and keep more female workers.

WOMEN’S SEXUAL, REPRODUCTIVE AND MENSTRUAL RIGHTS BILL(2018):

Features:

  • It ensures that women obtain safe abortion procedures, prenatal care, and comprehensive reproductive health services.
  • To enable women to make knowledgeable decisions about their bodies and health, programmes promoting sexual and reproductive health education and awareness are encouraged .
  • It involves addressing the stigma associated with having a period and making sure that menstruation related facilities, products and information are accessible.
  • Ensuring equal treatment and opportunities for all individuals by outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, or reproductive health status.
  • It ensures women’s autonomy over their bodies, privacy, and dignity when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health.

Provisions:

  • It intends to ease financial limitations and guarantee that all women and girls can manage their periods in a safe and comfortable manner by making menstruation products free or subsidised available.
  • In order to dispel myths, lessen stigma, and provide people the tools they need to take charge of their menstrual health, the law seeks to integrate thorough menstrual health education into community programmes and school curriculum.
  • The law seeks to guarantee that clean, private areas for managing menstruation hygiene, such as access to water, soap, and disposal facilities, are provided in public toilets, schools, and other establishments.

Benefits:

  • This lowers the financial burden of menstruation and encourages hygiene by guaranteeing that women have access to reasonably priced and secure menstrual products.
  • It promotes the installation of private, hygienic restrooms and changing rooms in public areas, workplace, and educational institutions to enhance the management of menstrual hygiene in general. 
  • It encourages menstruation education and awareness initiative that dispel period related stigma, enabling women and girls to take charge of their menstrual health.
  • It provides access to care for problems related to menstruation, including dysmenorrhea and menorrhagia, hence enhancing women’s general health and well-being.

RIGHT TO MENSTRUAL HYGIENE AND PAID LEAVE (2019):

Features:

  • Mandating that menstrual hygiene supplies be given away for free in company bathrooms.
  • Prohibiting discrimination against workers on the basis of their menstrual cycle.
  • Granting flexible work schedules or access to medical leave to workers who are suffering from severe menstruation symptoms.
  • Putting in place teaching initiatives in companies and schools regarding menstrual hygiene and health.
  • Defining requirements for menstruation hygiene facilities in the workplace, such as hygienic, easily accessible restrooms with appropriate disposal choices.
  • Providing low-income people with government subsidies or assistance programs to ensure their access to reasonably priced menstruation supplies.

Provisions:

Section 4: It protects women’s rights, including paid time off during menstruation, access to facilities for personal hygiene, and designated restrooms in public areas.

Section 5: Fair compensation and three days of paid menstrual leave are mandatory for employers of female employees. It prohibits discriminations based on this employment advantage or promotion decisions.

Section 6: It requires the government to offer free biodegradable sanitary products, make sure there are adequate facilities for disposing of waste, put in place rules for managing menstruation hygiene, and spread awareness of menstruation hygiene and the stigma attached to it.

Section 7: It enforces sanctions, such as jail time and fines, for acts like refusing them menstrual leave, getting in the way of their right to it, or undervaluing the rest and leisure time that is recommended during menstruation.

Benefits:

  • Better Health: Women who have access to paid leave and menstrual hygiene products are better able to manage their monthly health, which lowers their risk of infection and other health problems.
  • Enhanced Productivity: The measure guarantees women can take time off when needed without worrying about losing income by offering paid leave during menstruation, which leads to higher levels of productivity.
  • Gender Equality: The bill reduces the gender gap in terms of access to healthcare and workplace rights by recognising and addressing the special requirements of women in the workforce.
  • Economic Empowerment: Women can engage in the workforce more completely when they have access to paid leave and menstrual hygiene products, which helps to advance their economic independence and self-determination.
  • Health Education:  Putting the bill’s awareness campaigns into action will teach people about menstrual health and hygiene, which will improve their general health and well-being.

PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE:

An argument was started by Ms. Irani when she turned away MP Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal when he inquired about making paid menstruation leave a requirement for all companies. “... menstruation and the menstruation cycle is not a handicap...it is a natural part of women’s life journey. We should not propose issues where women are denied equal opportunities just because somebody, who does not menstruate, has a particular viewpoint...”  it was declared by the Union Minister.

The discussion commenced when Ms. Irani stated that, “no proposal under consideration to make provision for paid menstrual leave mandatory” in response to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. The minister listed many types of leave and appeared to be advising women, many of whom endure excruciating, nearly incapacitating agony during their periods, to make due with those as well, including leave designated for other uses like time off for child care and pregnancy.

The Personnel Minister distanced itself from the subject, saying the Union Health Ministry would be a better authority to study it. This came about as a result of a legislative panel’s recommendation that it confer with relevant parties to develop a menstruation leave policy for government workers. Menstruation debilitates most women and hinders their productivity and effectiveness at work, according to the standing committee on personnel, which is why it suggested that women be granted menstrual leave every month or year without having to provide medical certificates or any other kind of rationale.

SUPREME COURT’S VIEW:

The Supreme Court stated on February 24 that, despite being a biological occurrence, menstrual discomfort leave has several “dimensions” and can serve as a “disincentive” for companies to hire women. It was instructed to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development Ministry in order to create a policy by a three judge bench presided over by Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud.

The court was fascinated, by a disclaimer submitted by Anjale Patel, a law student, who was represented by attorney Satya Mitra and expressed objections to the proposed action. “The law student says that if you compel employers to grant menstrual pain leave, it may operate as a de facto disincentive for employers to engage women in their establishments..  This has a policy dimension,” said Chief Justice Chandrachud.

According to Mr. Tiwari, the only states that let women take menstrual pain leave are Kerala and Bihar. In accordance with Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, he had asked the court for an order. Menstrual leave was already offered in some capacity in the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Spain according to the request.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS:

Advantages:

  • Paid menstrual leave promotes gender equity in the workplace by acknowledging the particular difficulties women encounter during menstruations.
  • Recognition and accommodation of women’s biological requirements promotes an inclusive work environment.
  • Women can prioritise their physical and emotional well-being by taking time from work without fear of financial consequences.
  • By openly recognising menstruation as a legitimate cause for leave, it helps to reduce the stigma of it 
  • Putting such regulations into place can help create a more encouraging environment where women feel appreciated and understood.

Disadvantages:

  • Paid menstrual leave could contribute to prejudice by reinforcing preconceived notions about women’s ability to manage their periods.
  • Women who frequently take menstruation leave may be perceived by employers as less dependable or devoted, which could result in bias in hiring and advancement.
  • Tracking usage and preventing misuse are two logistical issues associated with implementing and overseeing paid menstruation leave schemes.
  • It brings up issues with perpetuating outdated gender norms, which may prevent women from entering the workforce.
  • Continuous assessment is necessary to make sure that paid menstrual leave laws advance gender equality rather than sustaining prejudice or discrimination.

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS:

INDIA:

Menstrual leave is now available in the benefit packages of some progressive employers, such as Zomato and Culture Machine. Still, it’s not a common practice in all Indian organisations and industries.

JAPAN:

 One of the first countries to implement menstrual leave legislation was Japan, which did so in 1947. Because this leave is required by law, female employees can take time off throughout their menstrual periods without worrying about facing consequences.

SOUTH KOREA:

Recognising the necessity for female employees to take time off during menstruation, South Korea instituted menstrual leave in 2001. Menstrual leave is legally required, same like in Japan, giving women the freedom to take time from work for menstruation related reasons.

TAIWAN:

Although there isn’t a legislation in Taiwan requiring menstrual leave, many employers there follow this custom. Even though it’s not mandated by law, employers frequently understand how important it is to give female employees this perk. 

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, paid menstrual leave can be a positive step towards addressing  women health and gender justice in workplaces of India. Employers can facilitate a more inclusive and supportive work environment by recognising the special obstacles    experienced by people who have menstruation and by offering them the help that they require.

It is important to make sure that these policies are carried out successfully, avoiding the propagation of stereotypes or further stigmatising menstruation. It is necessary to maintain on going education, awareness and collaborations with wide range of stakeholders in order to guarantee the success and durability of paid menstrual leaves programmes in India.
 


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