Paid Period Leave… Yes Please!

Do you suffer from dysmenorrhea, more commonly known as painful periods and menstrual cramps, with pain occurring in the pelvis or lower abdomen? Do your painful periods restrict your ability to productively work? If you have just answered yes to those questions, you may just want to pack your bags and say “Ciao” to Italy.


Italy has recently been set to become the first Western country to introduce paid period leave, which includes three paid days of leave each month. However, the paid period leave is only available to women who have dysmenorrhea, which must be proven with a medical certificate to their employer and the medical certificate must be renewed each year. Dysmenorrhea is period pain in the pelvis or abdomen, however women can also experience other symptoms including back pain, diarrhea and nausea. Although many people are applauding the Italian government for introducing legislation that recognizes menstrual pain, critics are worried that it will worsen gender inequality in the workplace and negatively impact hiring practices. Maternity discrimination in Italy is already widespread, and “only 61 percent of Italian women work, well below the European average of 72 percent (in the United States, it’s 71 percent).” (Anna Momigliano, The Washington Post)

Currently, menstrual leave is implemented in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. Japan’s menstrual leave has been a right for women since 1947! Although the menstrual leave of the four countries varies (Taiwan only offering three days per year, compared to Japan’s two days per month) they all recognize that menstrual leave should be separate from common sick leave. However, many women still take common sick leave for menstruation, in fear that taking paid menstrual leave will stigmatize them. But, countries aren’t the only ones who have implemented menstrual leave in the workplace. “Nike introduced menstrual leave in 2007 and makes business partners sign a memorandum of understanding to ensure they maintain the company’s standards.” (Kayleigh Lewis, Independent)

Don’t have paid period leave, but have painful periods and menstrual cramps? Here are some tips that can be done at the workplace to help relieve the effects of painful periods:

  • Try a herbal tea to calm menstrual cramps
  • Try getting some exercise during your lunch break- it can boost endorphins and help ease pain
  • Massage with essential oils for pain relief
  • Improve your diet to help cramps – a low-fat diet decreases overall inflammation in the body

References: (Kathleen Doheny, 10 Ways to Relieve Period Cramps)

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