The Spanish parliament has approved the creation of a sick leave for women suffering from incapacitating periods, becoming the first country in Europe to do so.
The bill includes provisions for paid menstrual leave for women with painful periods and allows the possibility for workers to call in sick "in case of incapacitating menstruation," the Spanish Congress said in a statement Thursday.
The broader legislation also includes measures to increase access to abortion in public hospitals where less than 15% of abortions are currently performed due to conscientious objections by doctors.
The new law makes Spain the first European country to provide paid medical leave to women with severe menstrual pain, with the state social security system covering the cost of sick leave.
The Bill was hailed by Irene Montero, Spain's Minister of Equality, as “a victory for feminist rights.”
The legislation requires a doctor's approval and is estimated to benefit around one-third of Spanish women who suffer from severe menstrual pain.
Similarly, research published by Fórsa last May also revealed just 1% of employees had the protection of a menstrual health policy in their workplace in Ireland, highlighting the need for action by employers.
One-in-four Fórsa survey respondents had been diagnosed with a specific condition – including premenstrual dysphoric disorder, endometriosis, or polycystic ovary syndrome – which resulted in medical symptoms including very heavy bleeding, migraines and nausea etc.
And over 70% of respondents had taken time off work because of their periods, while just four-in-ten of them felt able to tell their line manager the real reason for their absence.
The research also revealed over 96% favoured the introduction of a menstrual-friendly policy in their workplace.
Fórsa is currently pursuing supports and polices on menstrual and menopausal issues for workers and is actively discussing it with employers in the public service through the industrial relations forums.
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