Italy 1st Western Country to Give Menstrual Leave

Posted on: 28 March 2017

Italy may soon become the first western country with an official menstrual leave policy for women employees. The draft law if approved will mandate companies to give three days paid leave each month to employees who experience painful periods.

Reaction to this proposed legislation has been mixed. Some hail it as

  • A positive step to help working women who suffer from severe cramps
  • A standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability – Marie Claire

The bill also has its critics even among the working women it seeks to protect in a country that has the lowest rate of employment for women – only 61% of Italian women work, well below the European average of 71%.

  • It penalises women in a country where they are already struggling to participate in the workforce
  • Employers could become more inclined to hire men

On paper, Italy has female-friendly labour laws such as five months’ of paid maternity leave that’s mandatory both for employers and for employees. In reality, Italian women struggle in the job market more than other women in other developing countries. Employers are reluctant to employ women and retain them after they become mothers. According to Italy’s national bureau of statistics, almost one-fourth of pregnant workers are fired during or right after their pregnancies.

Other countries that offer menstrual leave are Japan and South Korea and there are companies like Nike which has introduced the idea of menstrual leave.

We at Freda believe that continuing open discussions about periods will allow women to ask for days off when suffering from extreme period pain like all workers do, regardless of gender, when they have a migraine or another chronic illness that may impact their work.

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