Many people who have experienced a menstrual cycle have probably also considered called in sick to work at some point. I know the following news is hitting me on a personal level today: soon Italy may give women three days paid leave every month to host Aunt Flo.
Experiences with a menstrual cycle vary. For some, it’s simply a matter of two lite flow Tampons and higher sensitivity to wine; for others it’s doubling over in agony and a reenactment of the prom scenes from Carrie in your underpants. A potential new law presented on March 13 by four woman legislators would give women who want to stay home during their periods the opportunity to do so, The Independent reports, so they can clutch the hot water bottle and binge watch Piccolo Grande Menzogna.
But, as with everything, some people think this is a bad idea. While Italy’s labor laws theoretically support women in the workplace, with excellent maternity leave options, the number of women actually in the work force is much lower than the European average, at 61 percent to the EU’s 72 percent. Critics fear that employers will be even more hesitant to hire, promote or invest in woman workers if they know there’s a chance she’ll be absent three more days a month. This fear is justified in part by statistics that show one fourth of working pregnant women in Italy are fired during or right after their pregnancies, though doing so is illegal:
“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 research institute FBK-IRVAPP, in an email. “However, on the other hand I wouldn’t exclude that [if the law is approved] this would lead to negative repercussions: The demand for female employees among companies might decrease, or women could be further penalised both in terms of salary and career advancement.”
The Independent also quotes Miriam Goi of Vice Italy, who says as saying the new bill might “end up reinforcing stereotypes about women being more emotional during their periods.” Again, everyone’s experiences are different, but if we’re taking our emotions into account, then I need the entire week preceding my period off, then the five days it’s happening off due to bloating. I’d also like the three days after off while my skin clears up.
It’s unfortunate that a law that could help those who seriously need it might end up backfiring for women, though it’s not surprising. The mysteries of the menses have been reason enough to separate and alienate people for centuries.