Updated 24 July 2017

Should female employees get 'first day of period' leave?

Two Indian media houses are implementing a new leave policy, and employees are blown away by the initiative.

The first day of a woman's period can be challenging and uncomfortable.

Besides painful cramps some women find it embarrassing and a feeling of the "blues" often kicks in. To make matters worse, women don't always feel comfortable asking for sick leave related to their period.

Now international media company Culture Machine's Mumbai office is implementing a new policy, offering their female employees leave for the first day of their period.

Not too long after the organisation made the announcement, Mathrubhumi News Channel in Kerala implemented the same policy.

This is revolutionary because in certain parts of India or more specifically where "Chhaupadi" is practised, women are not allowed to live in the family home or participate in family activities for the duration of their menstruation cycle, because they are considered dirty or impure.

'That time of the month'

Cuture Machine created a short video speaking to a few of their female employees about “that time of the month” and what they have to endure – physically and from other people, like their colleagues.

In the viral clip, Devleena Majumder, president of human resources for the company, says that the first day of menstruation is very uncomfortable for many women, and that it shouldn't be an embarrassment, but rather accepted as part of life.


In an interview with Mirror Now, CEO and Co-Founder of Culture Machine, Sameer Pitalwalla said they are not concerned about numerous employees taking off at once, but rather that they take time off to recover – whether physically or mentally.

Pitalwalla’s thoughts around what the company have dubbed #FOPLeave are similar to those of Olark’s founder and CEO Ben Congleton’s when his employee, Madalyn Parker, said she was taking a few days sick leave to focus on her mental health.

After emailing her boss, Parker was very taken with his response and proceeded to share it on Twitter. It was retweeted several times and Congleton was commended on being such a good boss.

Surviving your menses

Many women suffer from premenstrual syndrome, where they experience mood swings and become irritable and emotional. They may also experience physical changes, such as bloating and breast tenderness. Because of temporary hormonal changes, they may also crave certain foods.

Once a woman's period starts, the PMS usually dissipates, but it could be replaced by cramps and diarrhoea. This can however often be alleviated by over-the-counter pain medications, applying heat or exercise.

If you suffer from unbearably painful menstrual cycles, you should consider consulting your gynaecologist.

Sick leave in South Africa

According to South African labour law, employers are compelled to give employees paid sick leave, and it’s in employees' best interest to take their annual leave in order to improve wellness and avoid illness or "burnout".

Read more:

'I'm taking a mental health day'

SEE: How long should you stay home when you're sick?

This is why you must take annual leave


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