Migraines. Nausea. Cramps. Extreme fatigue. Once a month, women worldwide can experience these symptoms, courtesy of their menstrual cycle. With severity ranging from bothersome to debilitating, the pains and headaches can interfere with regular everyday life.
Zomato is a company that gets it and is tackling the issue head-on. One of the world's largest food-delivery firms, India-based Zomato has announced a bold new policy that gives women time off to deal with period issues.
"Going forward, women at Zomato can avail up to 10 period leaves in a year. This also applies to transgender people working at Zomato," the company stated in a tweet this month.
Company founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal elaborated in a note posted on the company blog, stating "It is our job to make sure that we make room for our biological needs, while not lowering the bar for the quality of work and the impact that we create." He also states that stigma and harassment related to women and transgender people taking advantage of the period leaves will not be tolerated.
Indeed, due to those biological differences, women experience their monthly cycle and hormonal fluctuations. Menstruation can start as young as age 11, and continue until up to 55 years of age, or menopause.
Painful periods, which can include pelvic and lower back pain, are defined as dysmenorrhea. The condition is common. "Dysmenorrhea is highly prevalent and is the leading cause of absence from school and work among women of reproductive age," according to a study published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Another NCBI study notes that up to 20% of women say dysmenorrhea can keep them from daily activities and 4% of women say their menstrual pain leads to a severe work disruption.
While many companies are trying to make their workplaces more parent-friendly, some international companies have also seen the value in being period-friendly. As early as 1947, women in Japan were offered paid period leave. Since 1992, the State of Bihar has allowed its government employees to take off two additional days of leave time due to periods. Culture Machine, a digital media company, has had a menstrual leave policy in place since 2017. Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan are other countries with various menstrual leave policies, although some women may not feel free to take advantage of the policies.
While some women may be afraid of a lack of workplace advancement or other sort of retaliatory practices when they use period leave, companies are taking efforts to make them feel supported. "There shouldn't be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave (at Zomato)," Deepinder stated in his note. He even reached out to men, stating, "This is a part of life, and while we don't fully understand what women go through, we need to trust them when they say they need to rest this out."
He echoes the sentiments that many women feel. "We have to support them through it if we want to build a truly collaborative culture at Zomato."