Spain’s parliament approved Thursday a law granting paid medical leave to women suffering severe period pain, becoming the first European country to advance such legislation.
The law, which passed by 185 votes in favour to 154 against, is aimed at breaking a taboo on the subject, Spain’s left-wing government has said.
Menstrual leave is currently offered only in a small number of countries across the globe, such as Japan, Indonesia and Zambia.
“It is a historic day for feminist progress,” tweeted Equality Minister Irene Montero, who says the move is a step toward addressing a health problem that has been largely swept under the carpet.
The legislation entitles employees experiencing period pain to as much time off as they need, with the state social security system — not employers — picking up the tab for the sick leave.
As with paid leave for other health reasons, it requires a doctor’s approval, though the length of sick leave is not specified in the law.
About a third of women suffer from severe menstrual pain, according to the Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society.
“Periods will no longer be taboo,” Montero said after the law was initially approved by the cabinet in May 2022.
“No more going to work with pain, no more taking pills before arriving at work and having to hide the fact we’re in pain that makes us unable to work.”