Italy may soon give working women paid 'menstrual leaves'

Representational Image Photograph:( Getty )

WION Delhi, India Mar 28, 2017, 07.25 AM (IST) Zeba Khan

Italy might soon give working women paid menstrual leaves. However it is expected to be limited to women who suffer from excruciating pain during periods every month. 

Currently, the lower house of Italy's Parliament has started discussing a draft law that if approved, will mandate companies to give three paid days off every month as part of “menstrual leave policy”. If the motion goes through, Italy will become the first Western country to offer paid days for painful periods. It is an existing law in Japan and Indonesia where working women are allowed time off during painful days every month. 
Health experts and local media outlets have praised the proposal, calling it a step in the right direction which would shed light on the silent plight of women suffering from debilitating cramps that can sometimes affect their ability to work.

But it seems like that the bill has critics, even among the working women it seeks to protect.

Some fear that the law might backfire and would penalise women in a country where they are already struggling to participate in the workforce. Lorenza Pleuteri in Donna Moderna, a women's magazine said, "If women were granted extra days of paid leave, employers could become even more oriented to hire men rather than women.”

As reported in The Washington Post, Italy has female-friendly labour laws on paper. Five months of paid maternity leave are mandatory both for employers and employees, meaning that companies must grant the leave and women, with few exceptions, cannot renounce it. During this period, a new mother receives 80 per cent of her salary, paid by INPS, Italy's version of Social Security. After that, parents of both genders have the right to take six extra months of parental leave, which is optional and paid at 30 per cent of their salaries.

This law may have an unfortunate unintended consequence that forces women to decide what hurts more, the workplace implications of this legislation, or their period.