The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the authorities to treat as representation -- a Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to the Centre and the Delhi government for granting paid leaves to women employees during the menstruation time.
The petition filed by Delhi Labour Union, through advocate Rajiv Agarwal, sought direction to the Centre and Delhi 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.
"We hereby direct the concerned respondents to treat this petition as a representation and decide the same in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policies in a time-bound manner," said a division bench of the high court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan while disposing of the petition.
The plea said: "...female employees form a significant part of workforce in the offices and establishments of the Respondents. At present, many employees employed with the are Respondents for performing various roles including that of officer, employee and worker."
"These employees perform all kind of works including that of administrative, managerial, supervisory, skilled, unskilled, manual, operational, clerical and technical nature. These employees are employed through different modes of employment such as regular employees, ad hoc, deputation, daily wage muster roll workers, contractual workers and workers employed through independent contractors/outsourcing agencies," it added.
The petition further states that 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 during their menstrual cycle.
The petitioner stated that besides facing actual psychological trauma because of sudden hormonal fluctuation, the release of a large amount of extremely inflammatory lipids called prostaglandins constrict the blood vessels in the uterus and make the muscle layer contract, causing 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.
"In our society, menstruation and complications related to it are still considered as taboo; they are shrouded in overwhelming shame and inability of female employees to discuss their bodily functions and impairments openly. There is a stark absence of official recognition for this actual, tangible physical condition that only the female employees have to undergo every month. There is simply no opportunity or agency for female employees to frankly air their grievances and raise demands for menstrual benefits," the plea concluded.
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