In a first for Europe, the Spanish government has brought in menstrual leave, paid for by the state, to allow people who menstruate to take time off when their symptoms make it too difficult to work.
“In case of incapacitating menstruation”, women in Spain now have the right to take up to three days of menstrual leave a month, paid for by the government, and can even extend that to five days.
The bill is part of a package that expands sexual and reproductive rights to also allow anyone 16 and over to get an abortion or to change their gender on their ID card.
Without such rights, women are not full citizens, said equality minister Irene Montero in parliament.
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In the UK, anyone experiencing severe menstrual pain or associated mental health impacts would have to use a company sick-day – if they get them, or sacrifice a day’s wage. Statutory sick pay is currently offered by the government at £19.87 a day, but will only be paid on the fourth day of absence.
“Periods are not an illness and require specific consideration in the workplace, especially given that in most cases symptoms will be recurring each cycle,” said Terri Harris, education manager at Bloody Good Period, which campaigns for a world built to accommodate menstruation.