The Spanish parliament recently passed new legislation introducing multiple changes to menstrual and reproductive health legislation including a government-paid temporary sick leave for female employees who suffer severe menstrual pain. The new leave (also called “menstrual leave”) may be taken for as long as needed so long as the temporary medical incapacity is approved by a doctor. The legislation will enter into effect three months after its publication in the Official Gazette (the exact publication date is still yet to be determined).

Latest update: The new legislation on menstrual and reproductive health will enter into effect three months after its publication in the Official Gazette, namely, on 1 June 2023.


The legislation makes Spain the first European country to grant female employees menstrual leave alongside a small number of countries around the world including Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Zambia, and Mexico. 

Key details

Employers will be mandated to grant female employees providing a medical certificate with as many days off as prescribed by the doctor to recover from their severe menstrual pain, including pain due to diseases such as endometriosis or polycystic ovaries. Unlike other sicknesses that are paid from the third day of absence by the Spanish Social Security (SSS) system and are subject to a minimum contribution period; the new menstrual leave will be paid from the first day of absence by the SSS and without minimum contribution period requirement. 

The legislation also introduces the following changes:

  • Extension of access to abortion for minors aged 16 and over without parental consent.
  • Removal of a mandatory three-day “reflection period” after the initial request to terminate a pregnancy.
  • In the event of fatal fetal abnormality, women will be allowed to have an abortion any time after the 22 weeks current deadline.
  • Requirement for public institutions, including schools and health centers, to distribute menstrual products for free.
  • Restrictions on surrogate pregnancies.

Next steps

Employers will need to review their HR policies and procedures, leave policies, and employment contracts, as applicable, to ensure full compliance with the new rules in a timely manner.