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Spain Will Introduce Menstrual Leave. It’s A Long Overdue Acknowledgement For Women

The new law would recognise those who suffer severe pain during their period.

Spain is acknowledging women and people with uteruses who experience severe pain during their period by introducing a law that would allow them three days medical leave.

A draft bill, revealed this week, stipulates that three days menstrual leave could be allowed per month, with an extension to five days also allowed in some circumstances. 

Spain would be the first European country to introduce the law. As it stands, only a handful of countries around the world currently allow menstrual leave, including Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Zambia also has a menstrual policy, whereby women are entitled to take one day off each month, the day is commonly known as “Mother’s Day”. 

The move from Spain comes amid major reform within the country’s reproductive health laws. It is also currently reviewing its abortion laws.

What exactly is menstrual leave?

Menstrual leave allows women and uterus owners who experience severe pain and discomfort during their period to request additional paid leave. 

While the small print of the laws differ from country to country, Spain’s new law would require a doctors certificate, with the option of extending the leave by two extra days if the pain is paritcularly intense. 

Given that people suffer varied forms of period pain, the leave is granted on a case by case basis at the discretion of a doctor. Leave would not be granted to people with mild discomfort. 

Why has Spain introduced menstrual leave?

Spain is in the midst of major reform within its reproductive laws, which moves towards recognising menstrual pain as a health condition. 

The government is also looking to remove the requirement of 15 and 16 year olds to have parental permission before getting an abortion. It would also require abortion services be provided in the public healthcare system. 

These major changes in Spain are part of a much bigger conversation about putting more weigh on menstruation and female reproductive health. Historically, women have often been dismissed when voicing concerns about period pain, with endometriosis often taking years to finally be diagnosed. 

Where does Australia stand in menstrual leave? 

In Australia, menstrual leave is not written into law, and there haven’t been any major moves within the government to change this. 

That said, some Australian businesses have added menstrual leave to their company policies. In May 2021, period underwear brand ModiBodi introduced 10 days additional leave per year for menstrual pain—this is on top of normal leave and sick leave, per SBS.  

Future Super, Victorian Women’s Trust and more companies have also enacted policies that allow women to take menstrual leave. 

A Western Sydney University study from 2018 found 90 per cent of women who were aged from 14 to 25 had experienced period pain in the previous three months—40 per cent had to take a day off work, school or university as a result of it.

With Spain now in the process of taking a huge step forward in this space, we can only hope it helps Australia to make changes on a federal level—watch this space. 

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