How these M’sian companies are realistically providing menstrual benefits to employees

How these M’sian companies are realistically providing menstrual benefits to employees

Ever since the Spanish cabinet approved a bill last year which grants menstrual leaves for women, debates have been triggered around typically neglected issues. They include menstrual health and what it means to be a woman in the workforce.

Should the fairer sex suffer in silence with these health-related conditions, or should companies be more accommodating to their needs and provide menstrual benefits?

Dictionary time: Menstrual benefits can refer to a number of company policies that allow menstruating employees to take better care of their health. These benefits can include paid menstrual leaves, the option for flexible working, free menstrual-related products, and short breaks during work hours.

Through a survey, we asked Malaysian employees and employers for their thoughts on the matter. Being a still-taboo subject, we were surprised to find that 88.9% of total respondents actually agreed that companies in Malaysia should provide menstrual benefits.

Diving deeper, we also found the potential pros and cons to such an arrangement:

ProsCons
Company’s turnover rates could be loweredThere is the possibility of the benefits being misused/abused
Employees have better work performance and less careless mistakesCompanies might be hesitant to hire women
Company becomes more appealing to job seekersIt could breed resentment between colleagues within the workplace

To better understand how the pros and cons actually materialise in real life, we decided to reach out to several companies in Malaysia that have implemented menstrual benefits. 

Admittedly, it was difficult getting responses as this practice is either not yet widespread, or companies declined to respond to us. In the end, we managed to get answers from three companies, ours included.

LightsUp Network Solution

Founded in 2005, LightsUp Network Solution (LNS) is an IT services and consulting firm based in Bangsar South (AKA Kerinchi). Its core business is in SD-WAN Technology and Internet Managed Services. 

The brand also has branches in East Malaysia, specifically Kuching, Sarawak to widen its market reach. 

As befitting of an IT firm, LNS has adapted and shifted its mindset along with the times. Its most recent effort is introducing menstrual benefits in its offices from September 2022. 

Speaking to Vulcan Post, Dang Chin Loong, the brand’s founder and CEO, explained that the decision was made after an increased awareness of the challenges faced by some of his menstruating colleagues.

Image Credit: LightsUp Network Solution

“Out of empathy and concern for our female employees, who make up over 65% of our organisation, we decided to provide menstrual benefits.”

The benefits in question include the option to work from home one day a month to ensure employees can work comfortably while dealing with menstrual pain. 

Although, this was a huge concern in the beginning because the founder was worried of the uneven bias and how it would affect company morale.

So, similar to Bieu, LNS promotes gender equality by providing male employees with another incentive—the ability to clock out earlier on the first and third Fridays of the month. This allows them to avoid peak traffic hours at its HQ in Bangsar.

Image Credit: Canva

In the seven months since the benefits were introduced, Dang shared, “So far everyone is happy and the policy is going really well.” 

“We understand that many companies may not provide such benefits due to concerns about lost working hours. But we believe that this small fraction of time is a worthwhile investment in our employees’ well-being and happiness.”

By doing so, menstruation also becomes less of a taboo in and out of the workplace. “Companies can play a role in educating everyone about menstrual health and gynaecological disease. [And] at the same time reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation.”

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