Spain could become the first European country to offer three day menstrual leave

Spain could become the first European country to offer three day menstrual leave
  • If the legislation is passed, women with severe period pain will be allowed to take 3-day menstrual leave each month.
  • It is yet to be confirmed whether the leave will be paid or unpaid.
  • Only a few countries across the world offer menstrual leaves.
A draft regulation in the works in Spain intends to provide three-day menstrual leave. This is part of a larger draft bill on reproductive health and abortion rights. And, if passed, it will become the first European country to offer this leave.

The Spanish Gynecology and Obstetrics Society says that around one-third of women who have periods suffer from severe pain called dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea refers to a condition that either starts prior to or during the period causing discomfort, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and diarrhoea.

"If someone has an illness with such symptoms, a temporary disability is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation ― allowing a woman with a very painful period to stay at home,” said Angela Rodriguez, Spain’s secretary of state equality and gender violence; who also floated this idea in March. The legislation is expected to be approved next week at the Spanish Cabinet meeting.

What is menstrual leave?
Menstruation is not a type of illness that requires leave, but it is the time when women go through biological changes and need rest. While some have bearable symptoms, for others the effects are severe and a few companies allow their female employees to work from home; or access paid/unpaid leaves.


Only a handful of countries allow menstrual leaves
A small group of countries like India, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia provide menstrual leaves. In India, there is no legal right for women to get menstrual leaves but Bihar provides two days of government-approved leave during periods.

In South Korea, a law ensures that women employees get additional pay if they do not take leave during menstruation. In Indonesia, women have the right to take two days of menstrual leaves per month - which are not counted as additional leaves.

In Taiwan, women are allowed to take three days of ‘menstrual leave’ per year - which are not counted as sick leaves.

Japanese Labour Standards Law states, "When a woman for whom work during menstrual periods would be especially difficult has requested leave, the employer shall not employ such woman on days of the menstrual period." In Zambia, women are legally entitled to take a day off every month.

The Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017 was first introduced by Ninong Ering, the MLA of Pasighat (West) Arunachal Pradesh as a private member bill in the Lok Sabha. This year too, he introduced the same bill on the first day of the 2022 Budget Session in the state assembly but other legislators dismissed the issue as an ‘unclean’ topic.

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