‘Red flag is up’: House bill grants women 2-day paid menstrual leave

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The Gabriela Party-list on Wednesday filed a bill granting menstrual leave of a maximum of two days per month with 100 percent daily remuneration to all female employees in government and private sectors.

In filing House Bill 7758 or the Menstrual Leave Act, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the bill seeks to provide women with the flexibility and support they need to manage their reproductive health without the fear of negative consequences such as losing pay, falling behind in work, or facing disciplinary action.

In the past few years, Brosas said menstrual leave has become a progressive legislation introducing new reproductive rights in many countries worldwide, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

Last February 16, 2023, Brosas said Spain became the first European country to provide workers with three days paid menstrual a month with the option of extending it to five days.

Last October 18, 2022, Brosas said La Union Governor Raphaelle Veronica Ortega-David signed Executive Order 25, which allows female employees of the provincial government to avail of Menstruation Day privilege to work from home two days a month while they have their menstrual periods.

“The executive order acknowledges the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of menstruation and recognizes its impact on women’s productivity,” said the lawmaker.

Also, she added that the local government of Tangalan town in Aklan province also passed the “Menstruation Day Work-From-Home Privilege Ordinance” in December 2022, which entitles female employees of the local government to work in the comfort of their homes for two days during their monthly period.

“As many local government units in the Philippines lead the implementation of such pro-women legislation, the national government must also pass a law to institutionalize menstrual leave with 100 percent daily remuneration to all female employees in the private and public sectors,” Brosas added.

Menstruation-related symptoms (MRS) are diverse and widespread among women, said Brosas.

Citing Hum Reprod Update, Brosas said between 45 percent and 95 percent of menstruating women suffer from primary dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation.

She said MRS patients are also found to have lower scores in several domains of quality of life during their periods, such as general health, physical, mental, social, and occupational functioning.

“Dysmenorrhea is often poorly treated and ignored by health professionals, pain researchers, and even women themselves, who may accept it as a normal part of menstruation,” she added.

However, Brosas said the painful and often unbearable symptoms of menstruation create considerable burdens on women and their families, such as over-the-counter medication.

“In sum, there is a need to provide women with the flexibility and support they need to manage their reproductive health without the fear of negative consequences, such as losing pay, falling behind in work, or facing disciplinary action,” Brosas added.

Under the bill, menstrual leave granted under the proposal shall be non-cumulative and strictly non-convertible to cash.

Also, the measure said no employer whether in the public or private sector shall discriminate against the employment of women in order to avoid the benefits provided for in the proposal.

Any person, corporation, trust, firm, partnership, association or entity found violating the rules and regulations of the bill upon promulgation shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding P100,000 or imprisonment of not less than 30 days or nor more than 6 months.

Image credits: Robinson Ninal Jr./Malacañang Presidential Photographers Division via AP