New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Union of India to treat a PIL as representation, seeking directions to the Central and Delhi governments for granting paid menstrual leave to women employees.
The petition filed by Delhi Labour Union sought directions to the Centre and the state government to grant paid leaves for four days a month to all classes of women employees, including daily wage, contractual and outsourced workers, and to pay overtime allowance to menstruating women employees if they opt to work during that period. The plea said: “…female employees form a significant part of workforce in the offices and establishments of the Respondents. At present, many employees are employed with the Respondents for performing various roles, including that of officer, employee and worker.” According to the petition, a significant number of these employees menstruate and there is very little consideration or even recognition for the emotional, physical, hormonal and physiological trauma that these employees undergo. The petitioner stated that besides facing actual psychological trauma because of sudden hormonal fluctuation, women suffer painful cramps.
It added that some of the prostaglandins enter the bloodstream, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The pain is so extreme in some cases that it causes fainting and dizziness spells.
“We hereby direct the concerned respondents to treat this petition as a representation and decide the same in accordance with law” said a division bench of the High Court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan while disposing of the petition.
S.C. Yadav, Additional Commissioner, Delhi Labour Department, told The Sunday Guardian: “First, we will go through the order as we haven’t received it yet. Before going through the directions of the Delhi High Court, it will be too early to comment on this matter. According to me, women need menstrual leave. This is social security for them and it is the right of every citizen to get benefits.”
In recent years, several companies have started introducing menstrual leave policies for their female employees. In August this year, the food-delivery app Zomato announced that all its women (including transgender people) employees can avail up to 10 days of period leaves in a year. According to the company, women employees can take one-period leave for each menstrual cycle.