This decision would be the first of its kind in Europe: In Spain, the left-wing government plans to introduce “period leave” in law for women with particularly painful menstruation, but the initiative is under discussion even within the executive and unions. This measure could be included in a bill on abortion aimed at promoting the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy and reproductive rights, which must be adopted on Tuesday in the Cabinet.
“We will recognize by law the right of women with painful periods to a special break (from work) that will be funded by the state from day one,” tweeted Friday afternoon the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, one of the leaders of the Radical Left Party Podemos, partner of the Socialist Party in Pedro Sanchez’s government .
However, it was not known whether discussions within the executive branch really made it possible to reach an agreement between Podemos and the socialist ministers holding the economic portfolios on the exact scope of this “period leave”. According to the Spanish media, which obtained a temporary copy of the bill, which was prepared by the Ministry of Equality, the duration of this leave will be three days, with the possibility of extending it for two additional days in the event of severe symptoms. On the basis of a medical certificate.
“There are women who can’t function and live normally several days a month because their periods are really painful,” Erin Montero said this week. “It is important to clarify painful periods: we are not talking about a slight discomfort, but about such serious symptoms as diarrhea, severe headache and fever,” the Secretary of State said in early April. A member of Podemos.
A few countries have introduced the right to “menstrual leave” in their legislation in recent years, particularly in Asia, but so far no European country has. In France, there are a few companies that are rare to allow their employees to take time off during their employment, but “period leave” does not appear in law or in collective agreements.
Fears of discrimination in the labor market
Therefore, Spain will once again be a leader in Europe with regard to women’s rights. But the debate is vital, because if the left wing of government pushes in this direction, some socialist ministers are hesitant, fearing that such a measure, due to its exorbitant cost, would in fact be futile, in “stigmatizing” women and favoring male employment more contradictory.
Thus the Minister of Economy, Socialist Nadia Calvino, showed herself conservative. “We are working on several versions of this law,” he identified the government’s second number, before warning that “this government will not take any action that stigmatizes women.” Debate also exists within the unions. “You have to be careful with this kind of decision,” warned the deputy secretary-general of the Tunisian General Labor Union, one of the two main Spanish unions, Cristina Antonanzas, who expressed concern about the possible spillover effects of this measure on “women.” access to the labor market.
“More than leaving, what we need is recognition of our disability, in cases where this disability is clearly visible,” said Anna Ferrer, president of the Association for Victims of Endometriosis, who said he feared “discrimination.” An analysis refuted by the Labor Committees (CCOO), the other major Spanish union, which in a press release welcomed a significant “legislative progress”, likely to “highlight and recognize a hitherto ignored health problem”.
Complete abolition of VAT on feminine hygiene products
The introduction of “period leave” would be a major measure in this bill, but it would not be the only measure. The Ministry of Equality would therefore like to include the complete abolition of VAT for feminine hygiene products. The text also plans to promote access to abortion in public hospitals and to allow minors to have an abortion without their parents’ permission from the age of 16. Abortion was decriminalized in Spain in 1985, then legalized in 2010, but the termination of pregnancy is still a right full of pitfalls in this country of tradition Strong Catholicism, where conscientious objection from physicians is great and where anti-abortion movements are most active.