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The Delhi High Court Is All Set To Hear A Plea Seeking Paid Period Leaves For Women Employees. We Support This

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In early August, Zomato decided to de-stigmatize menstruation by granting paid period leaves for its female employees. This actually sparked a debate on social media and a lot of people (*coughs* men *coughs*) said that it’s not fair that women get more leave than they do. These are the same people who get paid thrice as much as women for the same work but they don’t see a problem there. Anyway, after Zomato broke the ice the conversation around period leaves gained a whole lot of traction and a few companies even followed suit. However, here comes the big break. The Delhi High Court is all ready to hear a plea for paid leaves for women while they are menstruating. 

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed before a division bench of the high court presided by Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan. The hearing is set on 23rd November. If all goes well, this date will go down in history as the day all women in our nation’s capital received paid period leaves. It’s something to look forward to. 

This PIL was filed by Delhi Labour Union, through advocate Rajiv Agarwal. It seeks direction from the Delhi government to grant paid leaves for four days a month to all classes of women employees including daily wage, contractual and outsourced workers. It also asks for overtime allowances to menstruating women employees if they opt to work during that period. 

Now, I know this will not sit well with a lot of people. Why? Well, some extremely thick-skinned people in our country believe that women asking for period leaves is unfair and against equality or something. Honestly, I don’t see it that way and you shouldn’t either. As most women will tell you, it is this very bias that causes them to turn up despite intense pain because they don’t want to play the ‘woman’ card. But in trying to keep up, women often suffer, their discomfort and pain being pushed to the back burner. We deserve some relief on the days we are low, in severe pain and are constantly uncomfortable. It’s has nothing to do with equality and everything to do with humanity. 

The plea that was filed with the Delhi High Court said, “female employees form a significant part of the workforce in the offices and establishments of the Respondents. At present, many employees employed with the Respondents for performing various roles including that of officer, employee and worker.” 

Further adding, “These employees perform all kind of works including that of administrative, managerial, supervisory, skilled, unskilled, manual, operational, clerical and technical nature. These employees are employed through different modes of employment such as regular employees, ad hoc, deputation, daily wage muster roll workers, contractual workers and workers employed through independent contractors/outsourcing agencies.” 

It also states that a significant number of employees menstruate. And that there is very little consideration or even recognition for the emotional, physical, hormonal and physiological trauma that these employees undergo during their menstrual cycle. Talking about the effects menstruation has on women, the plea says it causes headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea. Sometimes, if the pain gets too severe it can cause fainting spells and dizziness. Not to mention back pain, leg pain, restlessness, anxiety and constant discomfort. 

Also Read: After Zomato, This Firm In Surat Is Giving Its Female Employees 12 Extra Period Leaves A Year. This Is Another Step Towards De-stigmatization

The plea concludes by saying, “In our society, menstruation and complications related to it are still considered as taboo; they are shrouded in overwhelming shame and inability of female employees to discuss their bodily functions and impairments openly. There is a stark absence of official recognition for this actual, tangible and physical condition that only the female employees have to undergo every month. There is simply no opportunity or agency for female employees to frankly air their grievances and raise demands for menstrual benefits.” 

I absolutely love that this plea was filed. Ideally, it should’ve been done a long time ago but I think striking while the iron is hot was a good idea. My only concern is that the bench that will be presiding over this hearing shouldn’t be made up of all men. It’s high time that they stop making decisions for women. There has to be a woman on that bench. Anyway, women’s representation in the judiciary is negligible but that’s a conversation for another time. 

I really hope that if this plea is a success in the Delhi High Court, it also gets filed in every other state in the country. Women need paid period leaves and this is an issue pan India. It’s only fair that women are given the option to not work while they are menstruating. Period leaves are not against equality.

Barkha Dutt Says Period Leaves Make Women Seem Weak. Raise Your Hand If You Looked Up To Her And Are Now Disappointed


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