The legislation allows women suffering from very painful periods to take three to five days off work on medical prescription.

Spain approves menstrual leave for the first time in Europe
Spain approves menstrual leave for the first time in Europe

The Spanish Chamber of Deputies has approved the bill creating a "menstrual leave" for women suffering from extremely painful periods the first green light. If the bill is approved by the Senate, Spain will be the first country in the European Union to enact such law, following the lead of other countries such as Japan, Indonesia, and Zambia, who have previously implemented some kind of menstruation leave.

According to El Pais, the reform allows for three days of leave every month on medical prescription, with the option of increasing it to five days for people suffering from debilitating menstruation. Other innovations in the law include the inclusion of menstrual health as part of the right to health, paid leave before childbirth beginning in the 36th week of pregnancy, and free distribution of menstrual hygiene products in educational centers, services for women at risk of social exclusion, and prisons.

The legislation on menstruation leave, pushed mostly by the extreme left-wing Podemos party, has sparked disquiet within the Socialist Party, the first force in the government majority, and has been sharply condemned by the Ugt union, the second most powerful union among Spanish workers. The union has expressed worry about businesses' potential reluctance to hire women in order to avoid having to give the days of leave required by the measure every month for workers with specific health issues.

Criticisms shared by the center-right opposition led by the People's Party, which claimed that the bill "would have the opposite impact for women," with "marginalization, stigmatization," and "bad labor market implications," according to Congresswoman Marta Gonzalez Vazquez.

Despite the concerns, the law was approved by a vote of 190 to 154, with five abstentions. Before becoming legislation, the document must now be voted on by the Senate and then returned to the Chamber of Deputies if there are amendments in the second reading.

"This is a legislative of feminist successes," remarked Equality Minister Irene Montero following the initial approval of the document. "We regard menstruation health as part of the right to health and work to eliminate stigma and silence," she added.
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