The Concept of ‘Period Leave’ Across the World

Taiwan, Indonesia and others offer ‘menstrual leave’, will India be next?


Left to women, most of them would prefer to not to go to work while struggling with the pain and discomfort caused by periods. Acknowledging that struggle, Mumbai-based Culture Machine that runs the popular YouTube channel Blush, recently introduced period leave for its female employees.

According to the First Day of Period (FOP) policy at Culture Machine, women can avail a leave on the first day of period. In a YouTube video by Blush, Devleena S Majumder, President of Human Resources spoke about the need for period leave.

“The idea was to organise the core organisational values to the content that we create. First day is obviously a not so comfortable day for most [women]. It’s time we face the reality. This is not an embarrassment. This is part of life,” she said. Culture Machine opened up the debate over the controversial topic over which even the feminists differ in opinions.

The company which has about 75 female employees, also launched a petition calling on other companies in India to implement the same policy. It wrote, “It’s no secret that period cramps are the worst, but over the years women have had to show up at work and mask their pain with silly excuses.”

After Culture Machine, Mathrubhumi, one of the largest media companies in Kerala has decided to offer leave on first day of period for their female employees.

As India engages in the debate about the period leave policy, we take a look at the countries across the world where the policy is already in place.

1. Japan

In 1947, soon after the World War II, Japan became the first country to offer period leave for female workers. As per the Article 68 of the Labour Standards Law, “ When a woman for whom work during menstrual periods would be especially difficult has requested leave, the employer shall not employ such woman on days of the menstrual period.”

Related factors such as the number of days and whether paid or unpaid was left to the individual firms to decide. But many Japanese women don’t take the leave as they fear the social stigma attached to it and that their might be seen as weak.

“If you take menstrual leave, you’re basically broadcasting to the entire office which days of the month you have your period,”  Kyoko*, a professional woman in Japan told The Guardian.

2. Taiwan

The  Act of Gender Equality in Employment was revised in late 2013 to add three extra days of menstruation leave that will not be deducted from half-pay sick leave, reported The China Post.

In the original Act, women employees were given one day of menstrual leave every month and the menstrual leave was considered under the common sick leave which was deemed unfair towards the women.

3. Indonesia

The Labor Act of 1948 allows women to take two days of menstrual leave per month. But do the women take the leave, that’s a different question. Many Indonesian woman like the Japanese, are tied down by the societal stigma because of which they end up not taking leave.

Many companies have also ignored the law.

4. South Korea

Since 2001, women in South Korea, had the right to avail  one day of period leave every month. Moreover, the nation also ensures additional pay if the women do not take the menstrual leave.

More Countries May Join

China is also exploring the policy. The government in China’s  Anhui province has announced that from March 2017, female workers may take a paid menstrual leave for one or two days. But the women will have to produce  a certificate from a legal medical institute or hospital,

Italy might soon offer menstrual leave and if it does, it would become the first Western country to officially offer the leave policy. The draft law is being discussed in the Parliament and if approved it, the female employees can take three days of period leave every month.

(Names in the story have been changed to protect identities)

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