After the Supreme Court struck down parts of Section 377 last year, the LGBT community in the country has found that the impact has spread beyond the legal confines. Companies are now making efforts to create workplaces that are more inclusive after the supreme court decriminalised homosexuality in a landmark move.
It has been reported that corporates have even initiated measures like offering paid leave and financial aid for employees who want to undergo sex-change surgery. According to the Times of India, corporates such as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and TechMahindra have made significant strides on this front.
Prahasini Arumugam, who has been working as a delivery analyst with RBS for the past 11 years, will soon be undergoing a life-changing surgery. However, the surgery and the recovery time require at least one-and-a-half months and she will also not be able to work from home during this period. The surgery is estimated to cost Rs 2 lakh.
"The monetary bit is one aspect and can be provided through insurance companies or through company funds. It's the non-monetary aspect that is tricky and needs a lot of support to go through. It's a life change for anybody undergoing this. There can be a sense of fear and anxiety — 95% of such people start their life all over again, move jobs and countries. It requires a lot of counselling and in-house support," Reeti Dubey, RBS India diversity officer, told ToI.
Initially, she wanted to quit her job before the surgery and have a fresh start elsewhere. However, RBS urged her to stay and offered their support, the report says. Companies such as Tech Mahindra and VLCC have also initiated measures supporting LGBTQ+ communities in the work place.
Prahasini told ToI: "I will require leave and, more importantly, financial assistance. Such surgeries require 1.5 months of complete recovery, wherein I will not be able to go to the office or even work from home. RBS India has said they are reviewing the policies for transgender persons. I am awaiting a communication to this effect."
In March 2018 RBS launched a medical cover for same-sex couples in the company. This was done at a time when homosexuality and same-sex relationships were criminalised. The Supreme Court overturned Section 377 only in September 2018.
RBS was one of the first companies in India to offer benefits to the LGBTQ+ community. They also offer adoption, maternity/paternity and surrogacy leave for their employees. RBS had launched the RBS Rainbow Network in 2005 to promote workplace inclusivity which is run by volunteers.
Tech Mahindra has also been making efforts to promote the inclusion of the LGTBQ+ community. One month paid leave for sex-change surgery comes under this.
"We are offering 30 days' paid leave to any associate who wishes to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. According to the policy, we maintain complete confidentiality and provide counselling to the individual and the team. We are talking to insurance companies to rework the medical expenses, subject to IRDAI allowing it," Tech Mahindra Chief People Officer Harshvendra Soin was quoted as saying by ToI.
(The story was updated to add clarification from the RBS)