Menstrual leave for workers who experience painful or debilitating period symptoms is not a new idea: Japan introduced a legal provision for (usually unpaid) menstrual leave as far back as 1947 and South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia also offer leave days for workers who menstruate. A small number of large companies have also opted to offer employees period leave in recent years.
However, the idea of offering people who menstruate days off when they are experiencing painful symptoms has not been more widely adopted, which is why a recent proposal to do so in Spain has hit the news. What is actually being proposed?
On 23 May 2022, the Spanish government published a draft bill amending the Act that governs sexual and reproductive health and abortion (Organic Act 2/2010). One measure included in the draft bill refers to female employees with ‘secondary incapacitating menstruation’. This is defined as incapacity to work derived from dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) as a result of a previously diagnosed condition. Workers who fall into this category will be entitled to sick leave, as they are temporarily unable to work. The employer’s obligation to pay social security contributions will continue in these circumstances.
It is important to note that the draft bill does not introduce paid leave for ‘secondary incapacitating menstruation’ as the Spanish government initially claimed. However, a very limited number of Spanish public authorities have implemented internal policies or have reached agreements with trade unions regulating paid leave for ‘secondary incapacitating menstruation’. These allow female employees not to work while they are experiencing period symptoms, as long as time spent during this paid leave is made up by the employee within a specified number of months.
For more information about time off work