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Global pressure for menstrual leave brings in Spain law



Global pressure for menstrual leave brings in Spain law

In many countries, companies have started offering period leave even though they are not legally required to do so.


Many women have painful periods, but only a handful of countries, most of them in Asia, allow them to take time off from work to recover.

Although this is changing.

On Thursday, Spain became the first European country to adopt a law allowing paid menstrual leave.

In many other countries, companies have begun offering period leave without being legally required to do so.

Here is a summary of the situation worldwide:

Spain: First in Europe

Spain’s bill, which was drafted by the country’s leftist government, allows for paid leave for menstrual pain, provided sufferers have a doctor’s note. The law does not specify the time limit for such leave.

Equality Minister Irene Monteiro vowed: “No more going to work with pain, no more taking pills before arriving at work and hiding the fact that we are in pain that makes us unable to work.”

The bill drew criticism from Spanish federations, who warned that, far from liberating women, menstrual leave could lead employers to prioritize men when hiring.

Indonesia: two days per cycle

Indonesia passed a law in 2003 giving women the right to two days of paid menstrual leave per month without prior notice.

But the provision is practically discretionary.

Many employers allow only one day off a month, while others do not provide menstrual leave at all, either because they are unaware of the law or choose to disregard it.

Japan: Legal since 1947

In Japan, a 1947 law states that companies must agree to provide women with menstrual leave if they request it, as long as they need it.

Although they are not required to pay women during menstrual leave, about 30 percent of Japanese companies offer full or partial pay, according to a 2020 labor ministry survey.

However, many women do not take advantage of the law. The survey of nearly 6,000 companies found that only 0.9 percent of eligible workers took menstrual leave.

South Korea: One day a month

In South Korea, women are entitled to one day of unpaid menstrual leave per month. Employers who refuse face fines of up to 5 million won ($3,844).

A 2018 survey showed a higher take-up than in Japan, with more than 19 percent of women taking time off.

Taiwan: three days per year

In Taiwan, the Gender Equality in Employment Act gives women three days of menstrual leave per year, which is not deducted from the statutory 30 days of regular sick leave.

Women can take only one day in any month.

Like sick leave, employees who work on menstrual leave receive only 50 percent of their pay.

Zambia: ‘Mother’s Day’

Zambia passed a law in 2015 allowing women to take a day off during menstruation without notice or a doctor’s note.

While the measure is generally accepted and supported, not all employers voluntarily comply with the law which is referred to as “Mother’s Day”.

But, encouraged by trade unions, women are starting to exercise their rights, communications expert and women’s rights advocate Ruth Kanyanga Kamwi told AFP.

Company ‘Perk’

Some companies and institutions haven’t waited until they are mandated by law to give women menstrual leave.

These include Australian pension fund Future Super, Indian food delivery startup Zomato and French furniture firm Louis who are giving six, 10 and 12 extra days respectively.

On its website, Chani, a Los Angeles-based astrology company, also offers “unlimited menstrual leave for those with a uterus.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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