Spain’s Equality Ministry is trying to pass a law that will offer days off to workers going through painful and disabling periods.
The reform is part of an abortion and reproductive health law being drafted by Spain’s Ministry of Equality. Draft leak seen by newspaper The Countryshows that the ministry hopes to allow three days of sick leave for painful and upsetting periods under medical supervision, extending up to five days for those with disabling periods.
“There is a study that says that 53 percent of women suffer from painful menstruation and in young people, it rises to 74 percent. This is unacceptable and should make doctors and society reflect,” said Ángela Rodríguez, Secretary of State for Equality, in an interview with The Periodical.
“It is important to clarify what a painful period is: we are not talking about mild discomfort, but serious symptoms such as diarrhea, severe headaches, fever. When there is an illness that causes these symptoms, a temporary disability is granted, so the same must happen with menstruation and that there is a possibility that if a woman has a very painful period, she can stay at home,” he continued.
“When the problem cannot be resolved clinically, we believe that it is very sensible that there is a temporary disability associated with this problem,” added Rodríguez.
There is some solid evidence that justifies this bold proposal. A 2019 study published in british medical journal, analyzed how menstruation-related symptoms affected the work and education of 32,748 women in the Netherlands aged between 15 and 45 years. It found that nearly 14% of respondents took days off due to their period, while over 3% said they need to take days off for every or nearly every menstrual cycle. When they called to say they were sick from their period, only 20% told their employer or school that their absence was due to their menstrual cycle.
Another aspect of Spain’s bill aims to make menstrual hygiene products free in public buildings and review the heavy taxation imposed on sanitary pads, tampons, etc. from the age of 16, they can have an abortion without parental permission.
The project may undergo changes until next week and still needs to go through the Spanish Council of Ministers. However, if it finally gets the green light, Spain will become the first country in Europe to pass such a law. A handful of countries including Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Zambia and Japan already offers menstrual leave.