Spain is poised to become the first country in Europe to offer menstrual leave to people experiencing severe period pain.
The draft bill also makes a provision for people experiencing especially excruciating and incapacitating period pain to five days of sick leave each month. The bill also includes a clause abolishing the so-called "tampon tax" on period products, something the UK finally did away with in 2021.
At present, menstrual leave is only enshrined in law in a very small number of countries worldwide, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Zambia. In Zambia, women are legally entitled to call in sick one day a month in what is informally referred to as "Mother's Day" leave. Despite this nickname, it's available to all women regardless of whether they have children.
In Taiwan, women are entitled to take three days of menstrual leave each year. In Japan, women have been entitled to request menstrual leave without a doctor's note since 1947.
Article 68 of Japan’s Labour Standards Act states: "When a woman for whom work during menstrual periods would be especially difficult has requested to leave, the employer shall not have said woman work on days of said menstrual period." However, a recent study found that less than 10% of women in Japan actually take menstrual leave.
Elizabeth Hill, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, told Euronews Next that Spain's menstrual leave could be a game-changer that encourages other countries to introduce similar provisions for people who menstruate.
"If it’s paid leave of three days a month, it will set a new global standard, a gold standard," she said.