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Menstrual leave and its global standing

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues related to women

Source: The Hindu

Context: The Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL about menstrual leave for workers and students across the country, calling it a policy matter.


About Menstrual leave/period leave:

  • Menstrual leave refers to all policies that allow employees or students to take time off when they are experiencing menstrual pain or discomfort. In the context of the workplace, it refers to policies that allow for both paid or unpaid leave, or time for rest.


Examples from India:

  • Zomato in 2020, announced a 10-day paid period of leave per year, and Swiggy and Byjus have also followed suit.
  • Among State governments, Bihar and Kerala are the only ones to introduce menstrual leave to women.
  • The Bihar government, then headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav, introduced its menstrual leave policy in 1992, allowing employees two days of paid menstrual leave every month.
  • Kerala announced that the State’s Higher Education department grants menstrual and maternity leaves for students in universities that function under the department.


Global Examples:

  • Spain became the first European country to grant paid menstrual leave to workers, among a host of other sexual health rights.
  • Japan introduced menstrual leave as part of labour law in 1947 after the idea became popular with labour unions in the 1920s. At present, under Article 68, employers cannot ask women who experience difficult periods to work during that time.
  • Indonesia introduced a policy in 1948, amended in 2003, saying that workers experiencing menstrual pain are not obliged to work on the first two days of their cycle.
  • In the Philippines, workers are permitted two days of menstrual leave a month.
  • Taiwan has an Act of Gender Equality in Employment in place. Under Article 14 of the Act, employees have the right to request a day off as period leave every month, at half their regular wage.
  • South Korea takes a slightly different route, allowing for monthly physiologic leave under Article 73 of their labour law, allowing all female workers to get a day off every month.
  • Among the African nations, Zambia introduced one day of leave a month without needing a reason or a medical certificate, calling it Mother’s Day.
  • Companies across nations, such as Nike and Coexist, have introduced menstrual leave as an internal policy.


Insta Links:

Kerala announces menstrual leave: Time to talk period