Spain is set to become the first European country to offer “menstrual leave.”
According to The Telegraph, the progressive measure is part of a reform plan that will guarantee up to three days off of work every month for those who suffer from severe period pain. The Spanish government is expected to approve the package during its cabinet meeting on Tuesday, making it the first Western country to provide such a right, following Zambia and a handful of Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia. Though menstrual leave is not federally mandated for paid time off in the United States, a number of private companies offer the benefit with varying limitations.
The Spanish policy was proposed for workers who suffer debilitating pain during the periods, rather than those who only have slight discomfort. The Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society states about one-third of those who menstruate experience dysmenorrhea—extreme cramping that occurs before or during a period. Dysmenorrhea symptoms range from headaches and diarrhea to a fever and stomach pain.
“If someone has an illness with such symptoms a temporary disability is granted, so the same should happen with menstruation – allowing a woman with a very painful period to stay at home,” Spain’s Secretary of State Equality and Gender Violence Angela Rodriguez told El Periodico, as reported by The Telegraph.
The reform package will also make sanitary pads and tampons much more accessible. The measure will remove a value-added-tax from the products’ sale price in supermarkets, and will also require schools to offer sanitary pads to students who need them. Furthermore, the policy aims to provide the products to those in marginalized social circumstances free of charge.
The Spanish government also intends to scrap the parental permission requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds who are seeking abortions.