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Critical Analysis On Menstrual Leave In India

Globally, the working environment and work culture been constantly changing. The employers are adopting new dynamics for best practices. The new world of professionalism is inter alia driven by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Environmental, social and corporate Governance practice.

Employers are practicing their best efforts to adopt dynamic circumstances and progressive practices to accommodate a diverse workforce. Organizations have also implemented modification of infrastructure, and grievance redressal mechanism and implementing several others initiative to address barriers that may arise on account of gender bias. Menstruation is one of the phenomena every woman is facing in day to day life. And it is also termed as unexplainable stigma.

In India the women workforce participation is lowest in the world according to recent studies from International Labour Organization in this regard there must be a new policy to address this issue.[2]

Demand of separate menstrual leave

Many of the women are experience physical discomfort and pain during their menstrual cycle. This involves hormonal variations in body which results emotions. During such period women may face and find difficult to maintain consistent level of productivity in work place. Many women also suffer from disorders related to menstruation such ovarian cysts, endometriosis, dysmenorrheal, in view of the same; the concept of menstrual leave remains a highly neglected issue in India.

According to statute of labour laws the menstruation leave is not considered and also not regulated. It may be considered as special leave that an employer may grant or offer to female employees on account of experience discomfort at work place. And employees can claim different categories of leaves like earned, casual, and sick leaves. And there would possibilities that, women may losing her professional benefits under the stigma of menstruation. Hence there would be need of in introduction of menstrual leave and also promote healthy discussions around menstruation, but will also ensure sensitization of the workforce and society at large.

If the employers are given leave facility for women workers it would be more benefit and also the productivity shall be increases with more focus on professional assignments. If the employer formulate these policies under employment rules it would be more concern to the employees. There are different arguments like women are getting more benefits in workplace why the separate menstruation leaves need to implement in work place. Menstruation is a biological process this is totally different from disese. This is the time to accommodate and support women needs where necessary. With respect to professional commitments are concerned.

Menstrual leave and law

Globally the concept of menstruation leaves are under remote topic. But few countries in this world have law Ex. Japan in 1947 framed a statute that an employer to allow a woman employee to avail leave on days of the menstrual cycle as and when requested.[3]

In Indonesian labour law enforce corporation to provide minimum two days leaves for women who is facing physical pain during menstruation or dates times. South Korean law provides one day paid leave for women employees at the time of menstruation period. The same system in Taiwan that every female employee can seek one day leave at the time of period, that will be deduct from sick leaves. In Zambia also the female employees can seek period days leave without providing any medical certificate in that regard. In European countries the first country Spain has executed first law for menstrual leave on production of doctors note.

Indian position
At present the Indian labour laws not directly expressing paid/unpaid leave on account of menstruation. But the states have power to implement such schemes for empowerment of women employees. Ex. Bihar government in 1992 under Bihar Vikas Mission under this schmes special leave for women employees. Before the India independence 1912, a government school in Kerala provided menstrual leave to its students during their annual examination and permitted them to attempt the same at later stage.

In 2017, a private member of parliament was introduced bill before the parliament of India, Lok Sabha by Mr. Ninong Ering (a former Lok Sabha Member of Parliament From Arunachal Pradesh) the bill facilitated women employees for menstrual leaves and also grievance redressal mechanism . but the bill was not tabled for discussion. In 2022, the same been tabled at budget session at state assembly, but the bill was withdrawn. Hence there is not legal position in this regard in India.

Recently, the Minster of women and Child Development has, in the response to question at LokSabha with regarding to implementation of menstrual leaves for government women employees. And said that government has undertaken various initiatives for raising awareness regarding menstrual hygine and health.

In January 2023, a public Interest Litigation was filed before the SC,[4] seeking directing to all states to implement menstrual leave policies for students and as well as women employees under the Maternity benefit Act, 1961. However the PIL been disposed and asked the petitioner to submit representation to Union Minister of Women and Child Development which may take appropriate decision in this regard.[5]

Industrial position in India

According present scenery there is particular law is governed menstruation leaves in India. The organization have free to independently take a decision and contractually extended more beneficial terms of employment than those provided under the applicable legal provisions. With respect to Indian industries and owners are implementing internal protocols to employees' wellness and extending benefits including menstrual leaves for their employees.

Ex: the Mumbai based News company announced a policy of offering leave to women of their period. The food delivery company Zomato also adopted such policy of menstrual leave. BY JU'S the education technology sector updated its leave policy. Some of the companies have also adopted new policies of providing of sanitary pads at a nominal rate at their premises for their employees.

From decade's women employees are facing menstruation stigma. Implementation of menstrual leave is a meaningful step towards female employees. It is an obligation on organization to create hygiene, and safe environment for women employees in this regards many organizations have extended menstrual leave benefits. The organizations policies may changes from time to time hence the government has made compulsory menstrual policy for all organization, it would reaches to more no of women employees in this nation.

  1. *
  2. site visited on 24/7/2023.
  3. Anushal Prakash, "Looking beyond the Law: The Case of Menstrual Leave in India" Practical Lawyer PP. 67-70 Apr 2023.
  4. Shailendra Mani Tripathi v. Union of India February 2023.
  5. Supra note 1 pp.69.
Written By: Mahantesh B Madiwalar, Associate professor K L E Society's Law College, Bengaluru.

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