- In February 2023, Spain became the most recent nation to introduce menstrual leave, joining Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia and Zambia. Spain’s new sexual and reproductive rights package allows people who menstruate three to five days of menstrual leave and free hygiene products in public facilities, alongside a broadening of the country’s abortion law and the option for those aged 16+ to freely change their legal gender. The proposal has been met with mostly positive reactions, although some criticise menstrual leave for creating job market exclusion and reverse sexism, while Nikkei BP Intelligence Group research found that only 10% of Japanese women have taken advantage of the policy.
- In the UK, 65% of people who menstruate say their period affects their ability to work some or most of the time, but an equal proportion have never taken time off due to period pains (YouGov, 2022). Although 60% of Brits believe it should be illegal to discriminate against menopausal women, the UK government rejected a proposal to make menopause a protected characteristic.
- In countries without protected leave, smart companies are developing their own policies. Ikea-owned design lab Space10 introduced its menstrual/menopause policy in January 2023, offering its employees the option to work from home, rest in designated office spaces or take paid time off. For more on addressing menopause, see The Brief.
Introducing menstruation and menopause policies within companies might help combat the “great break-up”, which sees women in leadership leave their jobs due to microaggressions, poor flexibility and inadequate diversity, equity and inclusion and wellbeing protocols. Companies with policies such as miscarriage support or emergency childcare services see a higher retention rate of their female staff.