Spain: sick leave for period pain?

Spain's left-wing government plans to introduce a new law under which women suffering from severe period pain would be entitled to paid sick leave. The announcement has triggered a debate about whether the law could have a negative impact on women's access to the labour market. Commentators from outside the country fear this could well be the case.

Open/close all quotes
Die Welt (DE) /

Better to promote research

For Die Welt, the proposed law takes the wrong approach:

“A regulation like the one envisaged in Spain could perpetuate the idea of menstrual pain as a female trait instead of focusing efforts on combating the problem with medical research and urgently needed innovations - or even with the possibility of working from home and flexible working hours. Until we reach that point, the guarantee of sick leave should not be made contingent on gender and an associated statistical probability of pain, but on whether a woman is actually suffering such pain.”

New Statesman (GB) /

Being a woman is not a disease

The New Statesman also believes that the initiative is ultimately detrimental to women's interests:

“Any employer that can't afford to hire a candidate who may end up taking three days off a month will recruit male rather than female candidates. Ultimately, women will lose out. ... What we really need to do is improve sick pay and make it normal to take leave for any ailment - be it period pain, back pain or colds. The pandemic ... has taught us that dragging ourselves into work when we are sick is a terrible idea. ... Instead of making 'being born female' into a condition so unhealthy it needs legislation to defend us, we should take another step in the realisation that workers are not robots.”

El País (ES) /

End the patriarchal stigma

It's time to break with the taboos about women's health, El País finds:

“It should be remembered that asking questions regarding aspects of health [in the work context] constitutes a violation of the right to privacy. ... Precisely because menstruation is a taboo fed by centuries of patriarchal culture, recognising the right to a specific incapacity to work is the best way to adapt rights to women's needs and at the same time put an end to the stigma, shame and silence that surround the topic of menstruation - despite its crucial role in the continuation of the species.” (ES) /

Let's celebrate!

Gerardo Tecé is already popping the cork on the champagne in Ctxt:

“I am not a woman, but I celebrate the victory over a taboo being enshrined in law as if it were my own. I celebrate it for my female colleagues, for my sisters, for my female friends who so often had to go to work suffering pain that in some cases could be as bad as that caused by the renal colic that has sent me to the accident and emergency department begging for a lethal injection on more than one occasion. I propose a toast to them all.”