In 2022 it’s commonplace to see women in many (if not all) areas of Malaysia’s workforce. According to data from The World Bank, women made up for 38.5% of the nation’s workforce as of 2021.
In a big step forward for Malaysian female worker rights, Sabah-based sustainable furniture company Bressi & Besi have introduced menstrual leave days where female employees are allowed a day off for period pain every month.
29-year-old Lukman Awaluddin (pictured above) from Putatan, Sabah, founded his furniture company Brutti & Besi back in October of 2020.
He hopes that the company’s new initiative builds a culture of trust and acceptance at work while simultaneously ending the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Additionally, Lukman also wishes for other companies to follow suit and adopt menstrual leave policies of their own which would hopefully result in a new nationwide policy regarding menstrual leave.
In an interview with NST, Lukman stated that:
“This menstrual leave policy allows women employees to take time off work without being stigmatised, having to make up excuses or feigning sickness. Our goal is to foster trust among employees to make the workplace more productive, efficient, and creative.
“Besides, women should not be ashamed or stigmatised when applying for period leave. Employees should feel comfortable informing their employers that they are on menstrual leave. Why the need to feel embarrassed of having periods, a critical biological function?” added Lukman.
Lukman explained how a personal incident inspired him to implement the policy for his company. Siti Faznur Abd Khaleq (pictured above), Lukman’s wife and business partner, was suffering from severe menstrual cramps for years, which she deemed to be ‘normal’.
“At one point, the pain was excruciating that she could hardly carry on with day-to-day tasks” mentioned Lukman. After this, the couple immediately sought medical advice.
“It was then we learned that she had uterine fibroid about 10cm in diameter. She really underestimated the pain that she had before. Thankfully, the procedure ended well and we had the fibroid removed and Siti is feeling much better now.”
Around the same time, one of Lukman’s new employees – Dg Nuriah Anis Abd Majid (pictured above) had also contacted him to request for a medical leave due to severe period pain.
Nuriah Anis, who works in the creative team, believes women should be allowed menstrual leave as menstruation affects women not just physically but also mentally, affecting their productivity and overall performance.
Through more conversations with his wife’s friends and gynaecologist, Lukman found out that women suffer from menstrual pain at varying degrees of pain and realised how it is often overlooked as a valid reason for medical leave.
Despite, their progressive initiative, Lukman noted that the company did take quite a bit of time before implementing the policy, taking into consideration how it would affect production as well as any potential drawbacks it might bring.
Ultimately, the company decided that implementing the menstrual leave policy would be best in the long run.
Lukman pointed out how “requiring an employee to see a doctor just to get a medical certificate (MC) while experiencing period pain makes no sense.”
“What’s the point of asking her to drive and sit through the waiting time (at a clinic) to get an MC? She might as well drive to work with that pain,” he added.
In any case, we here at JUICE think this is a big step in the right direction for all female workers and applaud Brutti & Besi for making that step.