SPAIN’S ‘menstrual leave law’ came into force on June 1, meaning that women in Spain can now request paid medical leave when suffering from especially painful periods. 

But how does the process work?

The measure was included in a new abortion law that came into force this week after initially being approved in the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament, in December 2022. 

To request the leave, women will have to first turn to their doctor, who will grant permission. A possible issue here could lie in the subjective nature of painful periods. 

According to sources from the government, who spoke to Spanish daily El Confidencial, the law is not designed to cover regular period pain, but rather intense pain that is accompanied by symptoms such as fever or diarrhoea. 

Once leave is approved by a doctor, the Social Security system will cover the woman’s salary from the first day that the period arrives. This means that the woman’s employer will not have to cover the cost of the time missed, thus avoiding possible discrimination. 

According to Europa Press news agency, the number of days of leave is not established in the law, but the norm will be around three days given the usual time period of menstruation. 

Figures from the Ministry for Economic and Social Inclusion suggest that there are around 6,000 temporary medical leaves granted every year in Spain due to dysmenorrhea (pain associated with menstruation) or abdominal distension.

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