What Is Menstrual Leave? (and Why Should We Have It??)
Written by Cinestie Olson
Let’s be real for a second… periods can suck, and it’s okay to admit that! Though menstruation is normal and healthy, it can also bring uncomfortable side effects like bloating, cramping, mood swings, and so much more. And if you have any sort of reproductive disease or disorder, your periods could be extremely painful. It’s safe to say that a lot of us menstruators would rather curl up in bed during our period than go to work or school. What if that was a reality? What if menstruators could spend time taking care of ourselves during our period?
Menstrual leave is the option for menstruators to take time off work or school during their period. While this is unfortunately uncommon (and unpaid), some countries have started to initiate menstrual leave in their workplace. Menstrual leave is typically separate from sick days, emergencies, or vacation days.
Other than the obvious benefit of being able to stay home during your period, menstrual leave has several other pros.
- Breaking the Stigma: menstrual leave allows everyone (not just menstruators) in the workplace to understand and educate themselves about periods. Periods are still, yes still, a common taboo everywhere. A company or school initiating menstrual leave encourages normalizing menstruation!
- Better Work Environment: companies that provide menstrual leave create better relationships with their employees who menstruate, because the mutual understanding of symptoms of periods can affect everyone! Who knew that treating your employees like people can make them happier???
Countries That Offer Menstrual Leave
Although menstrual leave is not a new concept, it is more rare than it should be.
Japan: Japan is one of the first countries to have a work law regarding menstrual leave. In 1947, a labor law mandated that employers cannot ask menstruators who experience difficult periods to work during their period.
Indonesia: in 1948, Indonesia adopted the menstrual leave labor law, and do not require menstruators to work during their first two days of their period.
South Korea: in South Korea, menstruators are given a day off once a month for their period.
Spain: Spain was the first European country to approve legislation for menstrual leave in 2022.
Taiwan and Zambia also offer paid menstrual leave. Menstrual leave is becoming more popular in countries like the US, Australia, and France.
What do you think? Should we mandate menstrual leave?