Employment Law

Would menstrual leave work for employees in Canada?

A headshot of Canadian employment lawyer Fiona Martin next to the Samfiru Tumarkin LLP and 900 CHML logos.

Interview Summary

Spain has recently announced that it will offer a few days of paid leave every month for employees experiencing discomfort and pain due to menstruation. Many have praised this decision as a step forward for employee rights, however, others have criticized it and claim it will pose more problems for the workplace.

Fiona Martyn, a Toronto employment lawyer and Associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP joined Scott Radley on 900 CHML to discuss the issue and the effect this decision could have on employees.

Interview Notes

  • Menstrual paid leave: The decision sends a message to employees that it is possible to take time off and alleviates shame and guilt for many who would normally have to power through symptoms. In Ontario, there are only 3 days of job-protected leave according to the ESA.
  • The decision for menstrual leave leads to stigmatization and embarrassment: It is possible that some employees who choose to take advantage of the leave could be seen as less reliable and reinforce gender-based stereotypes and face discrimination.
  • Could menstrual leave affect employers’ decisions to hire: There is a possibility that employers will consider that some employees will need more time off than others. There needs to be a workplace culture that ultimately supports the decision to implement this leave.
  • Balance needed for this leave to be implemented successfully: While there are potential problems with employees having to voice specifically why they are taking leave, employers are expected to accommodate employees with medical conditions supported by a doctor.

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