All this ga ga over a company offering period leave needs us to look into the fineprint says Kiran Chaturvedi. Shattering all perceived applause, she says – with substantial evidence – that these moves should be a ‘real deal’ and not a headline grabbing gimmick.

The kerfuffle about the Period Leave announcement by Culture Machine Media Ltd. makes me wonder if we are even clear on ‘what’ is being offered and if there is anything to clap about?

If we are to be anything more than pawns in a marketing communication led consumerist world, we had better learn due diligence.

A little information is always a dangerous thing.

What are the rules of the new Period Leave policy? No one is saying. I tried getting this out of them and all I have since a day is a blank.

In the video on Blush Channel (run by Culture Machine) the women employees of the company are asked about how awful it is when they have to work with their period. It is a visible relief to them be able to say publicly that periods suck.

I get that. Such conversation is welcome. It helps make taboos dissolve. It also help build up the brand as such a friend of women. And why not. All very legit and fine.

Then there is a grand revelation. The Period Leave Announcement! Of course the women on camera are incredulously joyous.

Win win, isn’t it?

Or is it, when the claims being made for PL are not quite honest?

The PL remains a vague and unformed notion in the video. We never get to really see or know its full contours. Yet, in gushing declarations it is made into a grand and great gesture that the women swoon over. Without knowing what it is. Blind Tinder?

Why launch the PL idea in such vague terms and make it sound like more of a benefit than it is? Because maybe only a conversation and a fit to facts announcement does not quite have so much eye ball catching viral trending push to make the brand stick with the target women audience. Other brands are also doing ‘conversation’. You need to do more. You need to create a stir with something novel and out of the box. Tra-la…then, launch the Period Leave policy while never saying just what it is!

So while Culture Machine stays silent on my queries, here is what a deep dive on Google pulled up. PL/ ML is all about making honest talking-truth-to-power employees out of us scheming lying workers, it would seem.

Honesty at the work place is laudable, any which way you look at it. Particularly from the employees. The employers though can fudge their words and claim it is employee welfare? Like in these examples?

1. About the PL at Co Exist, Bristol , a UK company. Turns out to be not quite the real deal. ( Not that I want the ‘real’ deal!) :

“Right now, these women try to work through their symptoms, and as Baxter said, suffer in silence. ….they’ll lie about stomach pains, food poisoning or flu. All that official period leave will do is ensure these women can tell their employers the truth.”

2. Another clarification from another employer in  UK :

“Employees would be expected to make up time taken off for period pain, but they could stay at home while they were suffering without having to produce a sick note. ”

3. And this how a Hyderabad based strategic consultancy puts it across:

“… “ML Request” …need to inform when they shall be compensating the leaves in the ‘succeeding consecutive weekends to complete the pending work. If the MLs are not compensated within the fortnight, they will be considered as paid or unpaid leave depending on the leave balance of the employee.

As for the unsubstantiated urban legend. “Nike includes this type of leave in their code of conduct worldwide, since 2007, making it the only major company to do so.” There is no mention of periods on the Nike website or their Code of Conduct. All it says under the heading of “Healt” in the Code of Conduct is :

“…The contractor provides a safe, hygienic and healthy workplace setting and takes necessary steps to prevent accidents and injury arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of work or as a result of the operation of contractor’s facilities. The contractor has systems to detect, avoid and respond to potential risks to the safety and health of all employees”

A leave that is not really an additonal benefit is being pitched to us as though it is some grand revolution. And we are gulping down the grand distortion. Without a pause to question the intentions.

Click Bait has never looked so enticingly benevolent.

By all means, let us hope for and demand workplaces and employer policies to be equitable, fair and just to the interests of all workers. Let us also hope for and demand better coping tools for the pain and drain of periods, which might include justifiably a real change in HR policies, and not mere tokenism. And let us not be fooled by gimmicks that have their own agenda. They are not always harmless, and have side effects we can well do without.

 Views are the author’s own