Menstrual leave in Spain and other countries – How does it work in practice?

Women all over the world struggle with menstruation every month, which can sometimes make it difficult to fulfil professional obligations. You may have already noticed that in Spain, changes have been made to the labour law regarding menstrual leave. Is this arrangement popular in other countries? How does it work in practice? Let’s find out!

Menstrual leave – what is it?

Menstrual leave in Spain was introduced in March 2021 in some cities, and from 2023 nationwide, and allows women who are struggling with severe menstrual pain to take an extra day off per month. In order to exercise this right, a woman must have a special certificate from a doctor that confirms the discomfort of bleeding.

How many times a year can we take menstrual leave? According to current legislation, women can take a leave of one day up to three consecutive days per month, for a maximum of twelve months. This is not literally a holiday – but rather a sick leave. The important thing is that, unlike other “illnesses” – it is paid from the first day by the State (and not, as in other cases, from the third).

Menstrual leave in other countries

It is worth noting that menstrual leave in other countries operates under different rules. For example, in South Korea and India, employers are obliged to give women leave during menstruation. The same is true in Japan, where the menstrual day off is called ‘seiri kyuka’. Indonesia also has its own version of menstrual leave since 1948. Zambia, on the other hand, has only one day, called ‘mother’s day’, where the female worker does not have to explain why she is taking leave. In the United States, on the other hand, there is no specific menstrual leave, but workers can take medical leave for serious menstrual complaints.

Menstrual leave emotions

Menstrual leave in Spain has been met with both positive and negative opinions. Those who support it believe that women should be able to take time off if their health requires it. The number of days of relief may not be large, but for many women it can be a significant help in their daily functioning. On the other hand, there are concerns that the introduction of this law could lead workers to discriminate against women, as well as increase labour costs for businesses.

However, it should be noted that not every woman qualifies for such a leave of absence. Severe menstrual pain – both primary and secondary – is not easy to diagnose. It is stigmatised that pains are experienced by ‘every woman’ and are downplayed by society, doctors or even women themselves. On the basis of the questionnaires carried out, it was found that women are already so used to pains that they do not describe them as “annoying”, despite marking considerable marks in their intensity.

Mentoring leave in Poland

If you are wondering what the situation is in Poland, we should unfortunately confess that there is no official menstrual leave in our country. While in some cases employers grant an employee’s request for a day off due to menstruation, this is only a matter of goodwill on the part of the company. Discrimination, including that based on gender or health status, is prevented primarily by the Labour Code, which obliges employees to be treated equally.

However, we do have some examples of companies that have introduced mentoring leave.

One Polish company that has decided to introduce menstrual leave is Krakow-based creative agency More Bananas. The company introduced a new type of paid leave at the beginning of 2022. In the case of this company, there is no need to fill in any formalities – it is enough to report absence on the same morning. According to the established rules and regulations, each person can use one day off per month. According to More Bananas, employees were asked for their opinion before the regulations came into force. No one raised any objections to the changes.

Another Polish company recognising a period holiday is PLNY LALA. The day off has been given the perverse name ‘Period Off’.

In 2023, menstrual leave was introduced by CD Projekt RED, based on the experience of sister company GOG, which implemented it a year earlier. In this case, one extra day off per month can be taken because of the period. Such leave is fully paid.


The introduction of menstrual leave in Spain shows that there is increasing attention in Europe to the problems faced by women. Although the idea has its opponents, for many women it can be a real help in their daily lives. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the situation may differ from country to country, and the decision to introduce such a law should be carefully considered and consulted with all stakeholders.

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