Menstrual Leave: Indian and Global Scenario

Menstrual Leave: Indian and Global Scenario


A menstrual leave policy allows women to take time off from work during their menstrual cycle to deal with menstrual pain and other health conditions. It is designed to improve gender equality and promote women’s health. Generally, menstrual leave allows women to take a certain amount of time off per cycle without impacting their job security or salary. 

Menstrual leave is designed to recognise and address the specific physical and mental health issues that many women experience during their menstrual cycle. The primary objectives of menstrual leave are to improve gender equality, promote women’s health, and improve workplace wellbeing by providing leave to manage menstrual pain, inclusivity, and productivity.

Need for Menstrual Leave

Women encounter varying degrees of physical pain and emotional shifts during their menstrual cycles. These fluctuations, accompanied by hormonal changes, often hinder consistent workplace productivity. Disorders such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and dysmenorrhea can further exacerbate the challenges women face. 

Unfortunately, the topic of menstruation remains a taboo subject in India, and existing labour laws don’t regulate menstrual leave. 

Many women refrain from discussing menstrual discomfort due to societal stigmas, discrimination fears, and professional setbacks. Introducing menstrual leave would foster open dialogue and sensitize society, leading to improved productivity and greater focus on work tasks. 

Such policies would also enhance employee retention and demonstrate employer support. While women could theoretically use sick leave, menstruation is a natural process, not an illness. It’s essential to normalize and accommodate these needs in the workplace to fulfil professional commitments.

Menstrual Leave: Background and Present legal position in India

  1. Notably, in 1992, the Government of Bihar issued an order offering female employees working in state-affiliated organizations two consecutive days of “special” leave each month. Informal discussions with Bihar government officials confirm the continued practice of granting such leave. The Human Resource Manual of the Bihar Vikas Mission, established by the State Government for scheme implementation, also mentions this special leave for female employees.
  2. Over a century ago, in 1912, a school in Kerala granted menstrual leave to female students during annual exams, allowing them to attempt the exams at a later date. 
  3. In 2017, a private member’s bill was introduced in the Indian Parliament by Mr. Ninong Ering, aiming to provide four days of paid menstruation leave per month to women employees in registered establishments. The Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017, proposed menstrual leave and related benefits, with a grievance redressal mechanism. However, it wasn’t discussed in Parliament.
  4. Recently, the Minister of Women and Child Development stated that central government servants currently have no entitlement to menstrual leave, and no proposal to include it in the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, is under consideration. The government focuses on menstrual hygiene awareness and access to hygiene products. 
  5. In January 2023, a public interest litigation (PIL) requested all states to frame a menstrual pain leave policy for female students and working women under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. However, the PIL was disposed of by the Supreme Court, suggesting that the petitioner submit a representation to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development for further consideration.

Menstrual Leave: Global Scenario

  1. Spain, under its left-wing government, has introduced a bill offering paid menstrual leave to women suffering from period pain, contingent upon having a doctor’s note. The legislation does not specify the duration of this leave but seeks to alleviate the need for women not to work while in pain.
  2. In Indonesia, a law enacted in 2003 grants women two days of paid menstrual leave monthly without the need for prior notice. However, the implementation of this law varies, with some employers providing only one day or none at all, either due to ignorance or choice.
  3. Japan has had a law in place since 1947 that obliges companies to offer menstrual leave upon request. Yet, it doesn’t mandate payment during such leave. Still, around 30 percent of Japanese companies voluntarily provide full or partial pay for menstrual leave, though it is underutilized.
  4. South Korea permits women one day of unpaid menstrual leave each month, with penalties for employers who refuse. About 19 percent of women took advantage of this provision according to a 2018 survey.
  5. In Taiwan, the Act of Gender Equality in Employment grants women three days of menstrual leave per year, separate from regular sick leave, though it is paid at only 50 percent of the salary. Only one day can be taken in a given month.


Promoting an inclusive work environment is now a top priority, and introducing menstrual leave is a significant step in dismantling long-standing taboos. Adapting to evolving workplace practices and prioritizing employee well-being is crucial. While menstrual leave is a recent practice and not addressed by Indian law, Bihar’s government has been proactive. Organizations should create safe and supportive workplaces by implementing policies, providing benefits, and fostering open conversations about menstruation without stigma, ushering in a necessary cultural shift at work.

Menstrual Leave: Indian and Global Scenario

Author: Aditi Pandey, Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

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