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Menstrual Leave: A Step Towards Inclusivity And Equity In The Workplace

Menstrual leave is when a woman can take paid or unpaid time off from work if she is menstruation and unable to work.

The concept has grown in popularity throughout history and has recently been a topic of discussion.

Some supporters claim that it is vital for women's health and well-being.

On the other hand, some believe it is unneeded, causes prejudice, and may be unproductive.

Although addressing menstruation is still frowned upon in many communities, it is essential to regard women as human beings and to consider their needs.

Women and girls have an internal conflict between expressing indications of exhaustion and explaining why.

Arguments that stand with menstrual leave

Health benefits are one of the most reasonable topics for people who argue in favor of menstrual leave.

Menstrual-related symptoms may vary from one woman to another. Studies and research show that menstruation symptoms (contractions, fatigue, stress, fever, cramps, back aches, and migraines) are directly related to the loss of productivity and can cause physical and mental health issues.

While some women typically live through their monthly cycle, others might experience a range of taxing side effects, particularly those with conditions like endometriosis or premenstrualdysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Another factor is increased productivity, as women may rest and recuperate instead of working through pain or discomfort. A day off may help relieve discomfort and mental stress, enhancing productivity afterward.

Employers may inspire women to want to be at work putting in their best efforts by supporting them with policies that respect women's distinct experiences and needs, which is the foundation of equality and inclusiveness.

Arguments against menstrual leave

Some employers may see adverse effects of such policies on women’s careers, such as increased absence and discrimination between employees, or it can be seen as discriminatory against men. It may cause unequal treatment in the workplace.

Some argue that menstrual leave policies may reinforce negative stereotypes and stigma against women, causing further marginalization of women in the workplace.

Also, one of the employers’ concerns is that they worry about reduced productivity if female employees take regular time off each month.

In addition to other legal concerns they may face, this may be seen as discriminatory and violate anti-discrimination laws.

Spain: Europe’s first paid menstrual leave law

Lately, on 16 February 2023, Spain passed a law allowing those with excruciating periods to take paid menstrual leave from work, becoming the first country in Europe to do so.

The law states the right to a three-day medically supervised withdrawal, with the ability to extend to five, for those with disabling periods: severe pain, cramps, cramping, cramping, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting that some women suffer every cycle. The bill was approved by the Parliament and is part of a broader package on sexual and reproductive rights.

Other countries have menstrual period policies

Several countries worldwide have implemented menstrual leave policies.

Japan has had a menstrual leave policy since 1947. It allows women to take time off work during their menstrual cycle if they experience painful or severe symptoms.

In 1948 Indonesia introduced this policy, where female workers are entitled to two days of monthly menstrual leave.

In South Korea, the law allows female workers to take one day of menstrual departure per month and give additional pay if they do not take the menstrual leave to which they are entitled. The policy was introduced in 2001.

Taiwan in 2013 gave women three days of menstrual leave per year, which is not calculated toward the 30 days of ordinary sick leave, giving women up to 33 days of health-related leaves per year.

In 2015, women in Zambia could take a day off each month because of a policy called "Mother's Day" for menstrual leave.

However, it is worth noting that these policies are not always widely enforced due to cultural taboos and social stigmas surrounding menstruation in some countries.

Finally, it is normal for every new idea to face opposite opinions and not be accepted by everyone. Maternity and paternity leaves had faced criticism and resistance before it was approved. But it depends on how to implement these policies by the laws in every country.

Yet it is a must to have such policies that ensure every employee’s rights and make things clear. Employers can involve employees in policy development and provide awareness and education by promoting a culture of inclusivity and respect.

It must be noted that feminism has nothing to do with this; it is a biological fact. Women should not be embarrassed if they are facing symptoms and feeling pain. Thus, it is a choice for every woman or girl to work if she can, but it is unacceptable to hide pain and generally act like nothing is going on while they are bleeding.

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