The Indian Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking menstrual leave for female employees and students across the country, but has allowed the petitioners to make representations to the government. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud stated that the issue falls within the purview of government policy and advised the petitioner to contact the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice expressed concern that requiring employers to provide menstrual leave would disincentivize them from hiring women. He objected to a law student’s involvement in the case, but conceded that she had raised an important point.
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The petition argued that menstrual periods are frequently ignored by society and stakeholders, and that denying menstrual pain leave violates women’s constitutional right to equality under Article 14. It demanded that Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act be implemented, which calls for the appointment of inspectors to enforce the Act’s provisions. The petitioner also mentioned that some countries already provide some form of menstrual pain leave.
Supreme Court’s stance
While the Supreme Court denied the petition, it is encouraging to see that the matter is being discussed and considered by the country’s highest judicial authority. However, the Chief Justice’s concerns about potential workplace discrimination against women are not unfounded.
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Employers may be discouraged from hiring women if they are required to provide menstrual leave, especially in male-dominated industries.
As a result, any policy changes in this area should be carefully considered and implemented to ensure that women are not subjected to workplace discrimination. “Equal rights mean equal fights,” as the saying goes, and it is critical that women receive the support they require to thrive in all aspects of life, including the workplace.
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