Italy could soon become the first Western country to introduce a legislation that may benefit working women.
The Italian government is all set to introduce a bill, which would make it mandatory for workplaces to grant women employees paid leave for three days each month to grapple with menstrual pain.
Italy's lower house of parliament is currently debating on whether to implement the "menstrual leave" policy. If the draft law receives official approval, then women employees will be able to get these leaves, which would be helpful for those who experience painful periods.
Four women legislators from the ruling Democratic Party presented the proposal on March 13. According to the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero, the proposal could get approved in the coming months.
Do Such Policies Exist In Other Parts Of The World?
Currently, Japan, parts of China, and South Korea have such policies in place. Some companies like Nike also offer menstrual leave to employees. However, the debate over whether menstrual cycle falls under a labor and economic issue rages on.
Menstrual Leave Policy: Supporters vs. Critics
Women in Italy reportedly face greater complications in the workplace, when compared with women in any other country. Reportedly, only 61 percent of Italian women work.
One school of thought is that the proposed policy will be a beneficial move to help women employees, who experience cramps during their period. The policy is "a standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability" as asserted by the Italian version of magazine Marie Claire.
"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," said Daniela Piazzalunga, an economist at FBK-IRVAPP.
She also added that she cannot deny the fact that if the law is approved, it may have a negative effect as companies may decrease hiring women. It may also have an adverse effect on their career graphs as a whole.
The proposed law has also been met with its fair share of criticism from people across the country. Several people have criticized the law and are fearful that it may result in complications at the workplace. Some experts believe that if the law allows women to take extra paid days off, then employers may prefer to appoint men to increase productivity.
What Does Research Say?
A study conducted in 2009 suggested that "menstrual cycle increases female absenteeism." Moreover, such absenteeism is instrumental in widening the salary gap that exists between male and female employees. Another study in 2012, however, did not find any evidence that menstrual cycles led to "increased female absenteeism."
The proposed law, however, may bring an unwanted issue in its folds. Rather than reducing the myths about menstruation, it could possibly increase the taboos and may "end up reinforcing stereotypes about women being more emotional during their periods."