A bill that would require companies to offer three days of paid leave a month for women experiencing painful periods is currently under debate by the lower house of Italy’s parliament.
The legislation, which was drafted by four female lawmakers from the country’s Democratic Party, would have a major impact on women with debilitating menstrual side effects, allowing them to avoid using their sick days.
Countries such as China, Japan and South Korea already have similar laws in place, but Italy would be the first western country to implement a paid menstrual leave policy.
Although this new policy might sound like a step in the right direction — it has potential repercussions. While Marie Claire Italia calls it “a standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability,” many others are concerned that it would instead reduce the number of women that companies hire. Already, only a reported 61 percent of Italian women are in the workforce, which is below the European average of 72 percent.
“The demand for female employees among companies might decrease, or women could be further penalized both in terms of salary and career advancement,” Daniela Piazzalunga, an economist at research institute FBK-IRVAPP, told The Washington Post.
Italy already requires companies to offer female employees five months of paid maternity leave, and it also compels women to take it, with some exceptions, The Independent reports.
Unfortunately, Italy’s national bureau of statistics, ISTAT, reported that, although illegal, almost a quarter of pregnant workers are fired during or shortly after their pregnancies.