This Country Now Gives Paid Menstrual Leave to Women

Spain is the first European nation to pass the paid menstrual leave law. In this article, we look at what this entails and whether this is also possible for the Philippines.

Dysmenorrhea is the bane of every woman’s existence. What’s worse is that these monthly painful cramps can interfere with their daily activities and productivity. “Almost 600 million working hours are lost yearly due to dysmenorrhea,” researchers reported.

Mandating menstrual leaves has been discussed by many countries for a long time with discussions as to whether the leave must be paid for by the company or not. Unfortunately, most of the conversations probe into women’s fitness to work or even lead to sexism. 

And Spain did just that. As the first European country to approve the menstrual paid leave law with 185 votes versus 154, the Spanish parliament voted in favor to protect women with incapacitating period cramps.

“Dysmenorrhea is a common problem, and it is experienced by 50 to 90% of women in their reproductive years worldwide, describing having painful menstruation,” BMC Women’s Health stated. It further adds that the pain could be insufferable to the point that women need to apply a hot compress to their abdomen to alleviate the pain. And if worse, they need to take painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Moreover, the law said that in order to avail of these menstrual leaves, the woman must secure a doctor’s note. And if she experiences severe cramps, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, she can extend the leave for five days. Spain’s public security system will cover all expenses. 

With this breakthrough, Spain is obviously one of the more progressive EU countries. In fact, the country even has a Ministry of Equality, which helped lobby this advocacy in their parliament. 

The Philippines’ Stand on Menstrual Leave Law

While the menstrual paid leave law is also available in other Asian countries like Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the Philippines has yet to give Filipinas the same right. 

As of writing, the only thing close to the menstrual leave is called “menstrual privilege” and this is only available in La Union. “The female employees of the provincial government of La Union may soon avail of the ‘Menstruation Day’ privilege, which means opting to work from home during their heavy period days,” the Philippines News Agency wrote.  

Last October 18, 2022, La Union Governor Raphaelle Veronica Ortega-David approved Executive Order 25, which states that female workers are allowed to work from home during their periods. Also, the government will provide menstrual kits to care for the female La Union residents. 

“I hope that with this EO, we can spread awareness and be kinder to our female employees, especially during their period days,” Ortega-David said.

Though the intention of EO 25 is comforting, it is just sad that rest during insufferable menstrual periods is considered to be a privilege than a right in the Philippines. What’s even more depressing is that women are still required to work despite the menstrual pain, whether from the office or at home.

While this is comforting for La Union residents to some extent, the rest of the Philippines has yet to follow. And given that 52.5% of the Philippines’ labor force consists of women, it’s high time that talks on passing the paid menstrual leave law must start.