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List of Countries with Menstrual Leave Policy

representative image showing a woman feeling cramps in her stomach due to menstruation
Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | March 10, 2021 (Last update: June 14, 2021)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website: www.lalitkumar.in

Menstruation is universal but Menstrual Leave is not! In fact, it would be better to say that there are only a handful of countries that allow women to take a break from work if they are menstruating and it makes it difficult for her to take care of her usual responsibilities on those days. The majority of the countries do not have the policy of any such leave for their women workforce. Here, we are providing a list of countries that have menstrual leave policies for working women.

Japan

Japan deserves to be on the top of the list as it is one of the pioneer countries in providing menstrual leave. But, the fight for the rightful leave in Japan too was neither easy nor short. Japanese Labour Unions started demanding leave during the 1920s. Finally, the law for granting menstrual leave, called ‘seiri kyuka’ (psychological leave), was brought into force by the Japnese Labour Standards in 1947. The law provides one day off if a woman is not able to go to her workplace due to menstruation.

However, the case study of the seiri kyuka of Japan indicates that it is a rarely used leave. During 1965 around 26% of women took menstrual leave while a survey conducted in 2017 shows only 0.9% of women claimed their menstrual leave. Some findings indicate that the major determinant of whether a woman takes menstrual leave or not are the social factors rather than her pain and uneasiness.

Indonesia

Under the Labor Act No. 13 in 2003, the working women in Indonesia have the right to take two days of paid leave during their menstruation each month.

representative image showing a woman feeling cramps in her stomach due to menstruation

South Korea

The female employees in South Korea are granted period leave by the labour law. If a female chooses not to avail of the leave, she will be paid for those days by the employer.

Taiwan

Though not very generous Taiwan has a policy for menstrual leave. Since 2002 women employees are allowed three extra leave days in a year over and above the normal sick leave allowed to all employees. These three days of leave can be utilized during menstruation.

Zambia

Women employees in Zambia are entitled to one day of leave each month since 2015. This special leave is however named ‘Mother’s Day’ rather than ‘Menstrual Leave’. A woman employee can sue her employer if she is denied leave.

In addition to the above-mentioned countries, some provinces in China are supposed to be providing menstrual leave. One of the states in India too has the policy of giving menstrual leave to the government female employees. Italy became the first European country to discuss menstrual leave in 2017 but eventually, no policy was formed. The corporate sector all over the world seems to be working far better than the governments in this matter as companies do compete in attracting more efficient employees by providing paid or non-paid perks.

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