Menstrual Leave: Should Companies Introduce It?

A smiling woman in the office

The debate on menstrual leave is increasingly present in the news and in corporate policies. In France, the town of Saint-Ouen recently introduced menstrual leave for its municipal employees, a first in the country. Let’s explore the different facets of this initiative and its potential impact on society.

What is Menstrual Leave?

Menstrual leave is a break from work granted to women suffering from pain related to their menstrual cycles. It aims to provide rest during painful periods without financial penalty.

However, the introduction of menstrual leave raises many questions and debates. To better understand this measure, it is essential to look at the nature of the rules and the reasons which lead us to consider the implementation of such leave in the world of work.

Menstruation: A Natural Phenomenon with Various Repercussions

Menstruation, or menstruation, is a natural biological process in women and menstruating people, marking the end of a menstrual cycle without fertilization. However, this phenomenon can be accompanied by various symptoms, such as abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue and mood swings, which can affect daily life and productivity at work.

Why Consider Menstrual Leave?

The question of menstrual leave emerges in response to these symptoms which can be disabling for some people. The idea is to allow women and menstruating people to rest during this period, without suffering financial or professional penalties.

The Benefits of Menstrual Leave

  • Reduction of suffering at work: The menstrual cycle can be a source of pain and discomfort for some women, which can affect their performance at work.
  • Reduction of absenteeism: Women who experience severe menstrual symptoms may need to miss work. Menstrual leave could reduce absenteeism and improve productivity.
  • Gender equality: Menstrual leave would help to break taboos around periods and recognize the specific needs of women.

Menstrual Leave on a Global Scale

Menstrual leave policies vary widely across the world, reflecting cultural and legislative differences. Here is an overview of how some countries are approaching this issue.

Spain: A European Leader in Menstrual Leave

In Spain, women have the right to three days of menstrual leave per month, a measure which could be extended to five days in cases of particularly painful periods.

Although individual companies in the West are beginning to adopt menstrual leave policies, there is no national legislation yet outside of Spain

The Asian Model: Pioneer of Menstrual Leave

  • Japan: Since 1947, Japan has recognized the right of women to take days off for painful menstruation, without imposing a limit on the number of days. However, in reality, few women assert this right, which is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness.
  • South Korea : Introduced since 1953, Korean legislation grants female employees one day of unpaid leave per month, going so far as to penalize employers who do not respect these rules.
  • Indonesia: In 2013, Indonesia passed a law allowing female employees to take two days of menstrual leave per month. However, it is common for employers to limit this leave to just one day per month, while others ignore or simply choose not to comply with this law.

Africa: An Example of Flexibility

  • Zambia: In Zambia, the “Mother’s Day” policy allows women to take one day off per month due to menstruation, without the obligation to provide a medical certificate.

The Challenges of Menstrual Leave

A team of women work on a production line, focused on their task

The introduction of menstrual leave in the workplace is a significant step forward for the health and well-being of women at work. However, this well-intentioned measure is not without challenges. Stigma is one of the major concerns. Indeed, there is a fear that menstrual leave may unintentionally reinforce negative stereotypes about women, perpetuating them as less reliable or less capable than their male counterparts.

In addition, discrimination in hiring represents a real risk. Employers may be reluctant to hire women, fearing the impact of absences linked to menstrual leave on productivity. To find the right balance between benefits and potential barriers, it is essential to design policies that protect women from these risks.

These policies must promote an inclusive and supportive work environment, where menstrual needs are recognized without prejudice or penalty, thus ensuring that menstrual leave achieves its primary objective: allowing women to work in fair and health-friendly conditions.

    A fight for equality and social justice at work

    Menstrual leave represents an important step in the fight for equality and social justice in the workplace. It is part of a series of progressive measures, such as the reduction of VAT on menstrual products in France, which rose to 5,5%, and the reimbursement for reusable sanitary protection by social security for women under 25 from 2024.

    These initiatives, in addition to menstrual leave, demonstrate a growing awareness of the specific needs of women and menstruators, and a commitment to their well-being. While international examples offer various models to consider, the adoption and adaptation of these policies in France and elsewhere will continue to shape a more inclusive and equitable work environment.

    The implementation of these advances raises challenges, particularly in terms of gender equity and the risk of stigmatization, but they also open the way to recognition and adequate management of a fundamental aspect of women's health. women in professional life.

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    The articles on the site contain general information which may contain errors. These articles should in no way be considered as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any questions or doubts, always make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist.

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