MDP parliamentary group shoots down menstrual leave amendment

MDP parliamentary group shoots down menstrual leave amendment

The amendment to the Employment Act, aiming to introduce one day of paid menstrual leave per month for women in Maldives' workforce, is to be withdrawn due to lack of support from the ruling party's parliamentary group.

Parliamentary representative for the constituency of Laamu Atoll's Fonadhoo Moosa Siraj, who proposed the amendment, confirmed on Monday that Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s parliamentary group did not approve the bill.

Thus, he said he would withdraw the amendment.

Siraj's original amendment sought to provide the menstrual leave in addition to the 30 days of paid sick leave already stipulated under the Employment Act. Women would not be required to present any medical certificates or documents to their employers in order to exercise menstrual leave.

Additionally, the amendment had proposed that female employees who did not take the menstrual leave be given additional pay, calculated as the one-day value of their monthly salaries.

At the time of proposing, MP Siraj had highlighed similar measures in other countries, stating that the amendment was intended to provide legal protection for female workers that face difficulties due to menstruation.

"I believe that introducing the policy in Maldives would be a convenience to working women and encourage women to join the workforce", he had said.

The first menstrual leave legislation was introduced by Japan in 1947. At present, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Zambia have enacted policies which allow women to take time off from work during their periods. Debates regarding introduction of menstrual leave are also ongoing in The Philippines, Italy, France, Brazil and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, a study published in BMJ Open by Dutch researchers in June this year, found that menstrual symptoms account for an average of nine days of lost productivity a year, mostly because of presenteeism which is defined as being present at the workplace for more hours than required, mainly over insecurity about one's job.

Public discourse on menstrual leave has revolved around whether the measure addresses gender inequalities or weakens women's work efficiency.

Earlier, on November 27, the parliament unanimously approved the decision to abolish the six percent tax levied on menstrual products in Maldives.