Period Leave: Progressive Or Restrictive?

We take a look at the discussion of period leave entitlement.


Recent years have seen more attention brought to menstrual health. More than ever, we are openly encouraged to talk about our periods, our reproductive health, and the often unpleasant side-affects that come with menstruation.

With efforts to normalize the discussion of menstrual health, why do so many of us still feel awkward talking about it?

The answer: lingering stigma. Last year, the United Nations criticized the international taboos on menstrual health and warned of their devastating effects. These taboos bleed into literally every aspect of the lives of those who menstruate, particularly those who work. 

In Japan, period leave entitlement has been in place for over 70 years. China and India are following suit, with many companies deciding to implement the policy. The practice of speaking to your boss and co-workers, for example, about requiring period leave could be viewed as challenging the stigma and myths surrounding periods.

However, there are growing concerns over period leave having a discriminatory or even dangerous effect. 

In 2017, the Italian Parliament discussed a draft law that would entitle those who menstruate to 3 days paid leave every month. This led to fears that this would allow discrimination against those entitled- meaning that employers may be reluctant to hire a person who menstruates. To date, this law has not been enacted. In Japan, many decide against taking period leave, citing embarrassment and potential sexual harassment from male colleagues as reasons.

When Zomato, an online restaurant recommendation and delivery service based in India, made headlines in August by introducing period leave for women and transgender employees, the company received mixed feedback. Some saw the move as counterintuitive.

As we have seen, the discussion surrounding period leave entitlement is controversial. Considering that periods affect roughly half the world’s population, this conversation is far from over.

Next up, Could It Be PMDD?