CONFIRMED: Spain will have Europe’s first paid ‘menstrual leave’

MPs in Spain's Parliament on Thursday voted through a bill granting paid medical leave to women who suffer from severe period pain, becoming the first European country to advance such legislation.

About a third of women who menstruate suffer from severe pain, according to the Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society.(Photo by JOSEPH EID / AFP)

Spain’s left-wing government said the legislation –which passed its first reading by 190 votes in favour to 154 against and five abstentions — was aimed at breaking a taboo on the subject.

Menstrual leave is currently offered only in a small number of countries across the globe, among them Japan, Indonesia and Zambia.

In May, the legislation was approved by the Spanish cabinet and now that it has received the go-ahead in the Spanish Parliament, it will now go to the Senate. If changed, will return to the lower house for another vote before becoming law.

The legislation entitles workers experiencing period pain to as much time off as they need, with the state social security system — not employers — picking up the tab for the sick leave.

As with paid leave for other health reasons, a doctor must approve the temporary medical incapacity.

Equality Minister Irene Montero hailed the move as a step forward in addressing a health problem that has been largely swept under the carpet until now.

“We are recognising menstrual issues as part of the right to health and we are fighting against both the stigma and the silence,” she said.

Montero belongs to the hard-left Podemos, the junior partner in Spain’s Socialist-led coalition, which has been the driving force behind the law.

Although the initial draft said women would have access to sick leave “without limit”, there was no mention of that in the text passed on Thursday.

About a third of women who menstruate suffer from severe pain, according to the Spanish Gynaecology and Obstetrics Society.

However, the proposal has created divisions among both politicians and unions, with the UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, warning it could stigmatise women in the workplace and favour the recruitment of men.

The bill also bolsters access to abortion services in public hospitals, a right which remains fraught with difficulties in a country with a strong Catholic tradition.

It also ends the requirement for minors of 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent before having an abortion.

Spain has taken a leading role in advancing women’s rights, passing Europe’s first law against domestic violence in 2004, and its current cabinet boasts more women than men.

READ MORE: What you need to know about Spain’s plan to change its abortion laws

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What are the penalties for getting into a physical fight in Spain?

The legal consequences of getting into a fight in Spain depend on a number of factors including how serious it is, how many people are involved, and who the aggressor was.

What are the penalties for getting into a physical fight in Spain?

Witnessing or being involved in a fight in Spain might be rarer than in your home country. But fights (peleas) do happen, and understanding the law and potential consequences are worthwhile.

This is especially true if you’re visiting on holiday and don’t speak the language. There are several considerations to make, and several factors that can change the legal consequences of being in a fight in Spain.

Firstly, it depends on whether the aggressor can be determined.


The most common cases where an aggressor can’t be reasonably identified are in groups disturbances or brawls (trifulcas). In these sorts of fights it is often very difficult to determine who started it, who was to blame, who were acting as peacemakers, and so on.

However, brawling in Spain is legally defined as a “dangerous” offence and is committed simply by participating in it. That is to say, in Spain you could plausibly be convicted of affray by merely taking part in a public brawl, even if you haven’t caused any kind of injury to anyone or started the altercation.

In the eyes of the Spanish law, the key components of the offence are: a group of people (more than two) assaulting each other in such a way that it is not possible to determine who the aggressor is and who the victim is, and that at least one of them (only one is necessary) uses means or instruments capable of causing injury or death.

The penalty under Spain’s criminal code for brawling is three months to one year imprisonment or a recurring fine that could last for between six to twenty-four months.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on carrying knives in Spain?

Assault and battery

If an aggressor can be identified, then the legal consequences become more severe. This is more likely in one-on-one fights.

There are also additional factors to be taken into account here, namely whether either person was reasonably defending themselves, and whether the person allegedly defending himself used a legitimate and justifiable form of self-defence.

If an aggressor can be identified and they are judged to not be using reasonable self-defence, for assaults and battery causing injury the penalty is imprisonment of three months to three years or a recurring fine of six to twelve months.

If the attack results in injuries that endangered life or physical health, or there was overkill or malice during the fight, potential prison sentences can range from two to five years.

And if the result of the fight was death, whether intentional or not, the sentences will vary between 10 and 15 years and 15 to 25 years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances surrounding it.

READ ALSO: What’s the law on guns in Spain?

Public disorder

Public disorder offences also carry criminal consequences in Spain. These offences include making threats and insults, vandalism, harassment, aggression and intimidation.

According to the Spanish criminal code, those who, acting in a group or individually, disturb the public peace by threatening or acting with violence against people or public property, can be punished with prison sentences of six months to three years.

Public peace in the Spanish legal context can be understood as respect for the conventions and social rules and regulations that facilitate citizens’ exercise of their rights; in short, the normal coexistence of people and their right to live their lives peacefully.

READ ALSO: What’s the law on cannabis in Spain?