MADRID ( Associated Press) — A government proposal that could make Spain the first country in Europe to allow female workers to take menstrual leave has sparked debate over whether the policy would help or hurt women in the workplace.
A leaked draft of the new bill that the Spanish Council of Ministers is due to debate on Tuesday proposes granting workers with menstrual cramps three days of optional leave per month, with an additional two days allowed in exceptional cases.
It was unclear whether the leave would be paid or unpaid, or offered in the form of flexible hours that employees would have to make up within a set period.
José Luis Escrivá, the Spanish minister for inclusion, social security and migration, tried on Thursday to temper expectations, describing the leaked proposal as a draft that was still “under discussion” within the coalition government.
The Equality Ministry, one of four ministries run by the hard-left junior partner in the Socialist-led Spanish government, was behind the bill, according to private news outlet Cadena SER, which first reported of the measure.
The ministry told The Associated Press that it had not leaked the draft and that the version that the Council of Ministers considers could undergo revisions.
The Secretary of State for Equality, Ángela Rodríguez, proposed in March the idea of granting some type of menstrual license.
“It is important to clarify what a painful rule is,” he told El Periódico. “We are not talking about mild discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhea, severe headaches, fever,” he added.
Although a handful of private companies across Europe have adopted policies on the period, the enactment of a national approach would make Spain a pioneer country in Europe. In parts of Asia, from Japan to South Korea, regulations on menstrual leave have long existed, though the extent to which they are used has been debated.
Italy briefly considered the idea in 2016, proposing a bill that would have provided three fully paid days off to workers who obtain medical certificates. The proposal did not advance before the end of the legislature in 2018.