Dubai firm announces paid menstrual, menopause leave, time off for fertility treatment

Employees availing these options to manage their symptoms will not be required to submit medical certificates


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 4:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 11:16 PM

In a first-of-its-kind policy to support its employees, a Dubai-based company has announced to offer its female staff paid leave for fertility-based treatments, menopause and menstrual-related time off.

TishTash Communications, headquartered in Dubai, has offered its 48-strong workforce, all of whom are women, this support in a bid to tackle the ever-changing landscape for employers and female employees throughout their career life stages.

Natasha Hatherall, founder and CEO TishTash Communications, said it made “both moral and business sense” for the company.

“For us, we want a happy, healthy and engaged team. Retaining employees has positive financial implications for any business. It is always less expensive to keep them than to replace them — so that is one factor in offering enhanced benefits for any organisation.”

She added that the financial cost of paid leave was minuscule in the grand scheme of things. “The cost of paid leave against operations and productivity is far outweighed by the positive loyalty and goodwill garnered. Ignoring the needs and wants of your workforce in 2023 is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make.”

The move comes just days after Spain passed a law which allows women with especially painful periods to take paid menstrual leave from work. In a European first, the law allows women to take three days of paid leave, which can be extended to five in case of debilitating cramps and after effects.

Natasha Hatherall and Polly Williams
Natasha Hatherall and Polly Williams

Need of the hour

As per the company's policy, staff members can avail of up to six days of menopause (and menstrual) leave per year, which is not part of the employees' personal or sick leave. Those undergoing fertility treatment, including those wishing to freeze their eggs, will be given flexible and unrestricted paid leave to allow them to attend medical appointments.

According to Polly Williams, Managing Director of TishTash Communications, this was the need of the hour. "With 1 in 5 couples requiring fertility treatment, TishTash recognises what a challenging time this can be," she said. "Also, the latest research shows that menopause symptoms are forcing women out of the workforce, with nearly 1 million women have left their jobs due to unmanageable symptoms. We wanted to create policies in line with our beliefs, and that would really make a difference to our team."

Natasha, who has struggled with fertility treatments, drew from her own experience. "One of the things that hit me most was how hard it was to juggle the near-daily appointments, last-minute tests, and unexpected situations I found myself in," she said.

"I struggled with this in the position of a business owner, who technically did not have to report to anyone. It did make me see how hard this situation could be [for employees]. So many women take time out of their careers for this exact reason and in one of the most stressful times, emotionally and physically."

Dubai resident S I, who has undergone three rounds of fertility treatments, commended the move. "Every time I had a fertility appointment, I would be late to the office by almost 2 hours," she said. "I was lucky to have an understanding boss at the time, but for a company to have it as part of their policy makes it so much easier and transparent for women."

Having taken several weeks of unpaid leave when she travelled abroad to continue her treatment, S I said she was happy other women would have more options. "In those days, there was no hybrid work or work from home culture. Now, since we have the experience of Covid, I think it is a very welcome move. One that I hope more companies will follow."

Aries Group
Aries Group

Not a first

Although it is one of the first to offer paid leave for fertility treatment, TishTash Communications isn't the first company in the country to offer menstrual leave. The UAE-based multinational Aries Group last year introduced menstrual leave for female employees and then went on to introduce 'Baby Care Leave' as a post-natal benefit earlier this year.

The move, taken in conjunction with the company's silver jubilee celebrations, allows all new mothers to take leave for one year after delivery and an additional year as work-from-home without any service break. As part of this scheme, employees who live near the office can avail of four half-hour breaks during working hours to take care of babies.

According to the company founder Sohan Roy, they have not faced any dip in productivity since the rules were implemented. "Targets are set well in advance and get completed on time irrespective of working location," he said. "System needs only 21 working days per month to complete the targets. The employee herself usually compensates lost working days."

Experts have praised the decision by these companies to provide menstrual leave. "In my opinion, not all women need days off during their menstrual cycle," said Dr Taisir Mohamed Idris, Specialist Obstetrics & Gyneacology Burjeel Royal Hospital, Al Ain. "For some women, these are like regular days. However, for others, it is a very stressful time when they experience a lot of pain, bloating, and abdominal cramps. For such women, it is good to be able to take the day off. Menstrual leave is important for women who suffer during their periods as they are tired and undergo hormonal changes during this phase. They require that mental and social support."


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