Spain’s sexual and reproductive health law, which includes the right for women to take time off work when they have their period, came into effect on Thursday.
The Gender Equality Ministry’s bill, put forward by the left-wing government, was approved by parliament in February.
Since then, amendments have been passed as part of the new law.
Barriers have been removed, which makes access to abortions and changing the gender of trans people easier.
After the parliamentary vote in February, Equality Minister Irene Montero spoke of a “historic day for the advancement of feminist rights.”
Menstrual leave is not a common regulation. There is no comparable provision in German law.
In Taiwan, women can only stay at home for three days a year, and they then only get 50 per cent of their salary.
In South Korea, employers have to give their female employees one day off a month if they make a request, but the law does not regulate who pays the employee’s salary.
To take menstrual leave, female workers in Spain require a doctor’s note. The duration of the leave from work is, in principle, unlimited.
According to the law, it depends on how severe the menstrual pain is and how long it lasts.
The legislation entitles employees experiencing period pain to as much time off as they need, with the state social security system — not employers — picking up the tab for the sick leave.
As with paid leave for other health reasons, it requires a doctor’s approval, though the length of sick leave is not specified in the law.
About a third of women suffer from severe menstrual pain, according to the Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society.
“Periods will no longer be taboo,” Montero said after the law was initially approved by the cabinet in May 2022.
“No more going to work with pain, no more taking pills before arriving at work and having to hide the fact we’re in pain that makes us unable to work.”