Paid Menstrual Leave: Controversy Erupts, Should Women Have This Benefit?

Should women have the benefit of paid menstrual leave from work? This question sparks controversy in the US because painful periods do exist, but would it help or hinder women in the workplace?

According to The Atlantic, other nations allow women paid days off during their menstrual cycle, especially in East Asian countries. The report read:

“Japan has had menstrual leave since just after World War II. According to the 1947 Labor Standards Law, any women suffering from painful periods or whose job might exacerbate period pain are allowed seirikyuuka(literally ‘physiological leave’). At the time the law was written, women were entering the workforce in record numbers, and workplaces like factories, mines and bus stations had little by way of sanitary facilities.”

Apparently, the number of women taking paid menstrual leave in Japan has “plummeted,” The Atlantic writes. Women don’t want to give up the benefit entirely, however. In Taiwan, this benefit is a new amendment to the Act of Gender Equality in Employment. Women are guaranteed three days of paid menstrual leave in addition to the 30 half-day paid sick days. Prior to the amendment, menstrual leave was part of the 30-day sick leave policy, but a “gender-diverse coalition of politicians” felt women’s basic rights were being violated.

Indonesian women are entitled to two days of paid menstrual leave per month. Several companies ignore the law and even require female employees to “prove” they need time off.

South Korea allowed women menstrual leave in 2001, but when the benefit was offered to college students, it was abused. Faculty members argued that female students used it as an excuse to be absent. Korean “men’s rights activists” feel there’s reverse-discrimination at play in the workplace and the benefit is now being scrutinized.

Not everyone in Asia agrees with paid menstrual leave because they view it as women being treated like future baby machines. Many are also too embarrassed to inform their employers they are having their monthly period.

Russia, on the other hand, struck down the idea of paid menstrual leave when feminists condemned it. It never took hold, but this is what the Russian lawmaker said in a statement last year when the draft law was proposed:

“During that period (of menstruation), most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort. The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance … Strong pain induces heightened fatigue, reduces memory and work-competence and leads to colorful expressions of emotional discomfort.”

As Slate accurately described the term “dysmenorrhea,” it’s the “kind of debilitating period pain that could interfere with daily life.” The report blasted the above Russian lawmaker’s statement by coming back with this:

“Mostly, these policies reinforce bizarre ideas about female anatomy and fertility—like the notion that ladies ‘who don’t rest during their menses will have difficulty in childbirth later,’ or that ‘the fairer sex’ can’t function while their uterine lining sheds.”

Inquisitr has covered stories involving menses and “that time of the month” for women. As The Atlantic pointed out, there’s only a certain percentage of women who experience unbearable pain while they’re having their periods. Up to 20 percent of women suffer dysmenorrhea and it affects their daily lives — making regular activities difficult.

Is paid menstrual leave something the US should consider as a benefit to female employees? This brings about strong debate because many argue allowing this kind of benefit to women would be yet another reason to hinder their stance on being paid and treated the same as their male counterparts in the workplace.

[Image via Bing]