Every woman after attaining the age of puberty suffers through biological and
reproductive conditioning known as Menstrual Cycle or Periods. In such a
situation, a woman gathers pain, irritation, etc. The very concept of Menstrual
Leave came to existence and recognition after Zomato; a food delivery app which
provided paid monthly leaves to female employees who were going through the
Many other Indian companies like Ivipanan, Swiggy, Byju's, Magzter Industry,
Mathrubhumi, Flymybiz, ARC, etc. after such great iniative, have started
providing paid menstrual leaves to the female employees of the company along
with providing certain other benefits.
Menstruation has become a burning yet very unbothered issue in the country as
large. The matters relating to menstruation is kept privately amongst
individuals and for such a major issue, proper medical facilities and sanitary
facilities are yet not provided to the females who are of menstruating age.
Studies have found out that pain derived from menstruation to a woman is similar
to a person having a heart attack. Such an experience shall reduce productivity
of the employees and can menstrual leave basically implies a paid leave(s) to
female employs or students during menstrual cycle
What is Menstruation
Menstruation or periods is normal vaginal bleeding occurring to a woman/ female
every month. Such event takes place in order to prepare a women or female for
process of pregnancy. In case there is no pregnancy occurring to the person, the
uterus or the womb shed its lining leading to release of menstrual blood. The
menstrual blood is partly in form of blood and tissue inside the uterus.
The process of menstruation occurs once a female attains the age of puberty. It
can occur during the age of 8 years to 17 years. Menstrual Cycle occurs in every
21 to 35 days and it may last within 2 to 7 days.
Menstruation occurs as a result of release of hormones estrogens and
progesterone from ovaries in a female's body. Menstrual Cycle ends at the age of
40s or 50s when ovary stops releasing hormones. This stage is known as menopause
The menstrual cycle occurs in 4 stages:
Menstrual Cycle occurs as a part of reproduction by a female or women
- The menses phase- it is at the beginning wherein the lining of uterus
sheds through vagina in case no pregnancy occurred
- The follicular phase- this stage occurs during 6 to 14 days and in this
stage, the estrogen hormones level starts to rise and it causes lining of
the uterus to thicken and grow
- Ovulation- It occurs during 14 to 28 days of menstrual cycle. There is a
sudden release in another hormone which causes ovary to release an egg
- The Luteal Phase- In this phase, the ovary travels through fallopian
tube after eggs leave ovary and reaches uterus. This is last stage from 15
to 28 days
During or after menstruation, a woman may suffer from nausea, fever, lack of
concentration or difficulty in focusing, tiredness, reduced emotional control,
increased sexual desires, etc.
What is Dysmenorrhea?
Also known as Painful Periods, it is extreme pain suffered by women in periods.
It is also known as menstrual cramps and usually occurs when uterus contracts to
shed its lining. Around 20% of women have or suffers the Dysmenorrhea. Such may
occur before beginning of periods or during the periods stage. The pain might be
mild in nature and in certain cases very severe in nature that it affects the
day to day activity of a woman
There are 2 types of Dysmenorrhea i.e. primary dysmenorrhea and secondary
- Primary Dysmenorrhea- It usually occurs 1 or 2 days before the beginning
of menstruation and is mild pain. Such pain doesn't occur as a cause of
medical condition but a general pain occurring due to the menstrual cycle.
The pain usually occurs in lower abdomen, thighs or back.
- Secondary Dysmenorrhea- It is very less common to occur. Secondary
Dysmenorrhea is usually more severe than Primary Dysmenorrhea. It occurs to
any condition or any kind of infection which has occurred in reproductive
organ of a female. The intensity and impact of such dysmenorrhea usually
lasts longer than actual menstrual cycle in most cases
What is Menstrual Leave
It can be said to as a leave given to female employees or students during the
phase of menstrual cycle. In certain cases, option is providing to females to
opt for leaves during menstruation whenever pain, discomfort, cramps, etc. is
suffered by them.
Article 21 of The Indian Constitution provides right to life and personal
liberty. In Kharak Singh vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, it was held that the term
'life' in 'right to life' doesn't mean mere animal existence.
A plea was filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India seeking paid
menstrual leaves for female employees and students during menstrual cycle. The
plea also intended to introduce Women's Sexual Reproductive and Menstrual Rights
Bill, 2018 which intended to provide free sanitary pads to females at their
premises by government authorities
The bill was rejected in the Legislative Assembly itself after all the ministers
rejected to discuss about such an issue stating it to be an 'unclean topic'
which shall be prevented from such discussions
The Supreme Court as well rejected the plea stating that such a plea may lead
the companies to lay off female employs or many company also may prefer male
employees over female employees and allowing such leaves may also affect the
productivity of the company. Other problems can also be faced by female
employees and students as whole.
Currently no act or bill expressly provides and defines menstruation and
menstrual leave in India
Many states and companies have recognized menstrual leaves and have directly or
indirectly provided certain provisions with regard to menstruation. Kerala has
partially allowed menstrual leaves by allowing female students to give annual
examinations at a later stage if it occurs during the menstrual cycle.
Similarly, state of Bihar has allowed 2 consecutive leaves as a part of
menstrual leave to female students and also introduced Vikas Mission which would
formulate many schemes w.r.t. menstruation. Zomato; a food delivery app was the
first company to take the move with regard to menstrual leave.
Menstrual leave and law:
In Anushree VR vs. Government NCT of Delhi (2015)
, The High Court of
Delhi held that Menstrual Cramps and pain are valid reason for taking leaves
from workplace and no female shall be discriminated due to menstruation in
workplace. Although menstrual leave was not recognized in this case but taking
leave because of menstrual cycle was held to be a valid reason for any female
Under Article 15(3) of The Indian Constitution, it was held that state can make
special provisions for women and children. Hence, The Constitution of India
provides special power to the state to make rules or provisions w.r.t menstrual
leave as it is a condition only suffered by women. Moreover, Article 14 of the
Indian Constitution as well provides equality before law but exceptionally it
allows reasonable classification to certain classes, castes, genders religions,
Article 47 of Indian Constitution provides that state shall provide provisions
for men and women for level of nutrition and standard of health which may
include menstrual leave as well. Similarly, Article 42 of Indian Constitution
provide just and humane condition at work place wherein menstruation shall be a
valid condition for which provisions shall be provides. Hence females may be
allowed to take menstrual leaves as a part of Article 14 of the Indian
Recently, Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur held a milestone by
allowing female students to take leaves during menstrual cycle as per a circular
on 29/09/23. If in case a female student has missed any class due to
menstruation, they may be compensated for the same. Such leave shall be approved
by the leave in the office. The move was taken after the Students Bar
Association had requested for the same in 2022-23
Currently, no such law or rule provides any provision or any privilege towards
menstruation or menstrual cycle moreover, it was considered to be an unclean and
unhygienic topic and not to be brought in parliamentary front. But certain acts
and bill can expressly provide Menstrual leave or laws which may relieve women
Such acts may include:
Scenario Menstrual Leave and menstrual hygiene outside India
- Factories Act 1948- Section 79 Factories Act provides for leave with
wages for employees working for 240 days or more. Women shall be provided
special leaves during menstruation. In order to provide healthy environment
and safety conditions such laws shall be made for women. Section 75(b)
Factories Act also signifies that an employee who is unfit may not be
permitted to work until he/she is fully fit. Menstruation can be such state
of health issue for females.
- Employees State Insurance Act- specifically provides security benefits
and for such benefit, Menstruation may be a valid reason.
- Companies Act- Schedule (vii) part (iii) of Companies Act guides that
Corporate Social Responsibility shall empower women and in order to empower,
they shall also be given leaves when they are unwell and cannot be
productive like menstruation and shall also provide sanitary pads and other
sanitary facilities to women.
Many countries have accepted period as a vulnerable issue suffered by females
and have taken steps in order to indemnify the same. Such shall be beneficial
health and sanitation of women. It has also improved the productivity and health
of women in such countries
In Japan, a female may take leave for 2 days in a month in case they have
menstrual cycle or such symptoms similarly, South Korea provides 1 day per month
leave w.r.t menstruation or related symptoms. Similarly, Taiwan provides 3 day
menstrual leave per month to female employee for which they may need not to give
Scotland has become the first country to provide free tampons and sanitary pads
to females in 2020 as approved by the parliament. Similarly, in year 2020,
France provided free Period products to menstruating women.
Kenya and South Africa took major steps by removing tampon tax and provided free
period products and sanitization products to the school girls. They also
provided free sanitary pads to the females of the country.
Many companies also have taken steps towards menstruation and have provided
menstrual leave or any other benefit due to menstruation. Zomato has brought no
question policy wherein 2 leaves taken by female won't be questioned and Swiggy
provides 10 days a year leaves to women as menstrual leave. A Mumbai based
company started giving leaves to women on first day of menstrual cycle.
On Woman's day, Vistara provided free sanitary pads to women passengers in the
flight, Lunette; A Finland based company provided menstrual cups to women which
are biodegradable and hygienic in nature.
Menstruation in India is considered to be a prohibited issue to discussion as it
is considered to be an unhygienic issue and a female issue. There is an urgent
need to bring these issue in legislation front and make strict rules for such
Government should also provide free pads and tampons to women and urgent
menstrual leave in order provide adequate relief to women and improve
productivity as well. Although menstruation has been greatly recognized in India
but heavy steps are the need of the hour against such issue