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Menstrual Leave in South Korea 

May 10th, 2021 Stephanie Jackson

Menstrual Leave, Women Empowerment or Stereotype Enforcer?Since 1953, women in South Korea have been permitted to take one day off a month due to painful menstruation. Between 2014 and 2015, Former CEO of Asiana Airlines, Kim Soo-cheon, received over 138 employee requests for a day off due to painful menstruation. The former CEO said that he began to get suspicious when large amounts of employees attempted to take off for painful menstruation near the holidays. Kim Soo-cheon asked the women to provide proof of painful menstruation. The South Korean court found that providing this proof infringed upon the individual’s privacy and human rights. The court recently fined the former CEO over $1,800. Other countries that provide menstrual leave are Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Zambia


What is Menstrual Leave? 

Menstrual leave stems from the idea that employers should permit women time off each month due to painful periods. Different countries have different regulations for how many days are allotted per month, as well as whether the time off is paid or unpaid. On average, a woman spends 3,000 days on her period throughout her lifetime. The scientific term for a painful period is dysmenorrhea, which impacts women of all different ages and may be caused by many different reproductive conditions. About 80% of women will experience uterine fibroids by the time they’re 50. Besides uterine fibroids, there are many other reproductive conditions that impact the painfulness of menstruation, such as endometriosis and adenomyosis. A study conducted in 2019 by Health Care for Women International found that 47.2% of the women surveyed support menstrual leave. Those in support felt that a menstrual leave act would normalize the conversation around menstruation. In fact, a UK study of 1,000 women between the ages of 14 to 21 found that 71% were embarrassed to buy sanitary products and 48% felt embarrassed by their period. The same study also found that 49% of women have missed an entire day of school due to period pain. Women make up roughly half of the workforce in the United States. Ultimately, the US does not have any laws surrounding menstrual leave. 


The Bloody Truth about Menstrual Leave

Menstrual Leave is still extremely controversial. Even though it provides a platform to ease the stigma around menstruation and increase productivity in the workplace, it also has the potential to negatively impact the culture surrounding women. Women have fought and continue to fight hard to gain respect from their male counterparts in the workplace. A menstrual leave law could embolden already negative stereotypes against women. Such stereotypes include that women are emotional, unreliable, expensive and overall weak employees. Similar arguments were posed before other successful maternity leave laws were approved.


Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If your employer has failed to provide reasonable accommodations for your medical condition, seek legal assistance from the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City and Livingston, NJ. Contact us today at (201) 879-6986 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.