Italy is considering giving its workers three days of paid "menstrual leave"

Lian Parsons
Women in Italy may be given up to three days off a month (Source: Getty)

Bloody hell. Italy may soon offer female workers three days of paid menstrual leave, making it the first western country with an official menstrual leave policy for women in the workforce.

Parliament has begun discussing the legislation introduced earlier this month by four female Democratic lawmakers that would require companies to grant up to three days of paid leave each month to employees with particularly debilitating periods.

Other countries that have a similar policy in place include Zambia, Indonesia, Kapan and South Korea, as well as some provinces in China.

Coexist, the manager of Hamilton House in Bristol, announced plans to add menstrual leave to its company policy last year. Other companies like Nike offer the option to their staffs.

Italy’s maternity leave policy offers new mothers 22 weeks off at 80 per cent pay and both parents also have the option to take an additional six months off at 30 per cent pay.

However, a study by the country’s national bureau of statistics revealed about 25 per cent of women were fired during or immediately after their pregnancy anyway.

With just 61 per cent of women in the workforce, Italy also has one of the lowest rates of female workplace participation in Europe, compared with its overall average of 72 per cent.

Still, there have been mixed reactions to the new legislation.

Italy’s Marie Claire said it is “a standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability,” but women’s magazine Donna Moderna feared "employers could become even more oriented to hire men rather than women”"

“The demand for female employees among companies might decrease, or women could be further penalised both in terms of salary and career advancement,” said Daniela Piazzalunga, an economist at research institute FBK-IRVAPP. “Women are already taking days off because of menstrual pains, but the new law would allow them to do so without using sick leaves or other permits.”

While many critics think paid menstrual leave may be a one step forward, two steps back situation, New York, Canada and France are among the places that have chosen to drop sales tax on products like tampons and pads, which may be a more effective way to combat menstrual-related inequalities.

Read more: Tampon tax: Another reason to be annoyed with the EU?

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