NEW DELHI:  A Mumbai-based digital media company has announced it will offer a “First Day of Period Leave.” This means employees have the option to take leave on the first day of their period – no questions asked. The company says the leave policy is an attempt to fight taboos surrounding menstruation in India. Culture Machine has also started a petition online addressed to the Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi and the Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar, asking for a similar leave policy to be implemented across the country.

Last week, the company announced the new leave policy in a video posted on Facebook and YouTube which have subsequently gone viral.

A number of employees at Culture Machine’s Mumbai office were told of the new leave policy for the first time on camera. Their reactions were included in the edited video, in addition to comments from the company’s top bosses explaining their new policy.

“Is it that time of the month?” one woman said she was often asked at work. “PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is something that is in your head,” another woman said she was often told.

“Sometimes with male bosses, you have to be a little discreet,” said a third employee featured in the video, discussing the “excuses” women often end up making for taking the day off due to period cramps or discomfort. “It gets slightly awkward.”

One employee explained he had colleagues complain of cramps and take the day off. “So, the first couple of times it happened, I was a little perplexed, it was not a sick leave nor was it a casual leave,” he said, his voice trailing off.

“Lots of times, I find men complaining about the fact that ‘Oh, but she gets her period and gets a day off or gets to sit idle and not do any work.’ But, the realization that we have to have is that we don’t understand that pain and we don’t go through it. And, if we were to have that kind of discomfort, we would possibly not be coming to office or not be doing work at that point of time,” said Ruchir Joshi, Head of Content, Culture Machine in the video.

“We wanted to make sure that our colleagues feel appreciated. And also, in a society like in India where ground reality of women empowerment is still a talk, we wanted to walk the talk,” explained Venkat Prasad, Culture Machine’s Co-Founder, COO/CTO.

*Article provided by NDTV