Menstrual leave

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Menstrual leave is a type of leave where a woman may have the option to take paid or unpaid leave from her employment if she is menstruating and is unable to go to work because of this.[1][2] According to a study, out of the 40% of women who are part of the labor force 20% experience a condition called dysmenorrhea that causes pain during menstruation.[3][4] Menstrual leave is controversial because it is seen by some as a criticism of women's work efficiency or as sexism.[5][6][7] Meanwhile, those who support menstrual leave policies compare its function to that of maternity leave and view it as a promoter of gender equality.[8]


A girls' school in the south Indian state of Kerala had granted its students menstrual leave as early as 1912.[9]

The concept of menstrual leave started in Japan in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, Japanese labor unions started to demand leave (seiri kyuka) for their female workers. In 1947, a law was brought into force by the Japanese Labor Standards that allowed menstruating women to take days off work. Then a unique legislation of its kind, it is now found in a few countries. Debate continues as to whether it is a medical necessity or a discriminatory measure.[10][11][12][13][14]

Corporate policies[edit]

Nike also included menstrual leave in their Code of Conduct in 2007, implemented around the globe wherever they operate. Nike obliges the business partners to follow the code principles by signing a memorandum of understanding.[15] Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) started a campaign for menstrual leave for female employees at Toyota. The union asked for 12 paid days of menstrual leave for a woman per year.[16]

Coexist, a Bristol community interest firm, introduced a "period policy" in order to give women more flexibility and a healthier work environment. Hoping to break down the menstruation taboo, Coexist became the first company in the United Kingdom to implement this policy.[17]

Legislative situations[edit]

Menstrual leave policies exist in some countries, although individual companies in countries that do not have national laws may choose to implement such policies.


In Indonesia, under the Labor Act No. 13 in 2003, women have a right to two days of menstrual leave per month.[18]

In Japan, Article 68 of the Labour Standards Law states "When a woman for whom work during menstrual periods would be specially difficult has requested leave, the employer shall not employ such woman on days of the menstrual period."[19][20] While Japanese law requires that a woman going through especially difficult menstruation be allowed to take leave, it does not require companies to provide paid leave or extra pay for women who choose to work during menstruation.

In South Korea, not only are female employees entitled to menstrual leave according to the Article 71 of the Labour Standards Law,[21] but they are also ensured additional pay if they do not take the menstrual leave that they are entitled to.[22]

In Taiwan, the Act of Gender Equality in Employment gives women three days of "menstrual leave" per year, which will not be calculated toward the 30 days of "common sick leave", giving women up to 33 days of "health-related leaves" per year. The extra three days do not come with half-pays once a woman employee exceeds the regulated 30.[23]


In Europe, currently there is no country with a national menstrual leave policy. One of the strategies of the EU Member States, as well as the WHO European policy framework, Health 2020, is to address the health and safety issues that affect women.[24][25] However, it has been argued that a menstrual leave policy brands all menstruating women as ill and perpetuates sexism; and that such a policy could increase the bias in hiring and promoting women.[24] The proposal by the Italian Parliament to introduce a menstrual leave policy in 2017 sparked debate in Europe on how menstrual health impacts women in the workforce. The bill would introduce a policy for companies to offer three days paid leave for women who suffer severe menstrual cramps.[24] However, the policy has not been enacted, similar to Russia in 2013.[26]


In Zambia, as of 2015, women are legally entitled to a day off each month due to their menstrual leave policy, known as "Mother's Day".[27] If a women employee is denied of this policy, she can rightfully prosecute her employer.


While some countries have policies in favour of menstrual leave, there are in some cases stigma related to this as it may require telling managers who are males about something the woman to believe to be a personal issue. At the same time there are arguments that it may portray women as less able than men and could therefore lead to further discrimination against women. One suggestion to remove the stigma was to provide additional medical leave for people of all genders.[28]


  1. ^ classprojects. "menstrual leave".
  2. ^ cleanclothes. "what is menstruation leave". Archived from the original on 2011-08-13.
  3. ^ "Labor force, female (% of total labor force) | Data". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  4. ^ Khan, Khalid; Champaneria, Rita; Latthe, Pallavi (2012-02-15). "Dysmenorrhea". American Family Physician. 85 (4): 386–387. ISSN 0002-838X.
  5. ^ Iuliano, Sarah. "Menstrual leave: delightful or discriminatory?". 5 August 2013. Lip Magazine. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  6. ^ Price, Catherine (11 October 2006). "Should women get paid menstruation leave?". Salon. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Italy debates paid 'menstrual leave' but experts warn it could increase gender bias at work". Global News.
  8. ^ "Policy Brief: Women and Menstruation in the EU". Eurohealth. 2018-03-07. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  9. ^ "A Kerala School Granted Period Leave 105 Years Ago". NDTV. 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  10. ^ JSTOR. "Japan's 1986 Equal Employment Opportunity Law and the Changing Discourse on Gender". 20: 268–302. JSTOR 3174950. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ HARVARD UNIVERSITY, 2007. "Periodic struggles: Menstruation leave in modern Japan".
  12. ^ "When did being a woman become a special condition? | Catherine Bennett". the Guardian. May 24, 2014.
  13. ^ Matchar, Emily (May 16, 2014). "Should Paid 'Menstrual Leave' Be a Thing?". The Atlantic.
  14. ^ Lampen, Claire. "Can 'period leave' ever work?".
  15. ^ apparelsearch. "NIKE Policy".
  16. ^ abc. "Unions seek 'menstrual leave' for Toyota workers".
  17. ^ "A company is giving its female staff 'period leave'". The Independent. 2016-03-01. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  18. ^ Govt. of Indonesia. "Labour Act". Archived from the original on 2011-10-04.
  19. ^ International Labour Organization. "National Labour Law Profile: Japan".
  20. ^ asianfoodworker. "Comparison of the Japanese Laws and Model CBA of UI ZENSEN on Maternity Protection" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  21. ^ International Labour Organization. "National Labour Law Profile: Japan".
  22. ^ joongangdaily. "Once again, court orders menstrual leave payout".
  23. ^ The China Post. "Gender equality in employment act revised".
  24. ^ a b c "Policy Brief: Women and Menstruation in the EU". Eurohealth. 2018-03-07. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  25. ^ "Strategy on women's health and well-being in the WHO European Region (2016)". 2017-11-24. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  26. ^ "Menstruation Leave: Russian Lawmaker Proposes Paid Days Off For Women Employees on Period". International Business Times UK. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  27. ^ "The country where all women get time off for being on their period". The Independent. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  28. ^ Business, Julia Hollingsworth, CNN. "Should women be entitled to period leave? These countries think so". CNN. Retrieved 2020-11-22.

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