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Italy Might Be the First to Approve Paid Menstrual Leave, Parliament Debating Pros and Cons

Mar 30, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
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Italy might be the first European country to enact a revolutionary law supporting women's rights with the paid menstrual leave. Members of the parliament proposed the bill last March 13.

Four lawmakers from the Democratic Party proposed the bill and the whole parliament is currently deciding whether or not to approve it. The decision will be released in the next few months.

The proposed law states that women should be granted three days of paid leave each month during their menstrual period. The proposed law aims to help women who experience painful cramps during that time of the month.

Reports say that the lower house of the parliament is already discussing the "menstrual leave" policy, according to Fortune. Local media and women's rights groups applaud the proposed bill. However, critics emphasized the would-be implications of the new bill to the workforce.

According to them, the bill might "backfire" and might result in companies' desire to hire women workers. This means companies will favor men when hiring due to the additional paid menstrual leave that the female workforce will be entitled to.

Italy is not short of women-friendly policies; thus, it is not surprising to see the paid menstrual leave policy being proposed to become a law. Currently, women in Italy enjoy a five-month maternity leave with 80 percent of their salary. This includes a right to extend parental leave for both parents with 30 percent paid salary.

However, the already imbalanced men-to-women workforce ratio is not looking to improve if the bill is made into a law. An obvious reason is the maternity leave and the hesitation of employers to hire back new mothers.

"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," Daniela Piazzalunga, an economist at research institute FBK-IRVAPP, said in an interview. "The demand for female employees among companies might decrease, or women could be further penalized both in terms of salary and career advancement."

The Italian parliament has a socially crucial and equally controversial topic to discuss. With women's rights groups and employers' points of view to consider.

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