Switzerland: Zurich's Green party pushes for 'menstrual leave'

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 3 Jun, 2022 Updated Fri 3 Jun 2022 12:02 CEST
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Zurich authorities will soon decide on the merits of "menstrual leave". Photo: Pixabay

Zurich's green party is pushing for women who suffer from menstrual cramps to be given leave from work.

Anyone who suffers from menstrual cramps should be able to be exempted from work in Zurich's municipal administration for up to five days. This is what the Green deputies on the city council are calling for.

These absences should be with full pay, the party says.

This option should also be open to trans and non-binary people.

Party members are urging city officials to carry out a pilot test for menstrual leave, and the experiment should then be scientifically evaluated.

The City Council will debate the proposal at a forthcoming meeting.

In the past, local elected officials had already demonstrated their willingness to support menstruation-related matters: in March, the Zurich city parliament backed a push for free tampons for schools and public toilets.

In fact, Zurich’s Federal Polytechnic Institute (ETH ) has launched a pilot project  in September 2021 at four locations in Zurich and Basel, where 22 “menstruation stations" have been installed in women's and in gender-​neutral toilets.

While the move toward the menstrual leave is bold, it is not the first in Europe.

Spain also has a plan to introduce paid "menstrual leave" in the workplace, which is now debated in the parliament.

When can you get a day off work presently?

Swiss law allows employees to take time off with pay in some well-defined circumstances.

They include:

  • A medical appointment
  • A court appearance or similar legal obligation
  • Public duties (working as a member of Parliament, for instance)
  • Your marriage
  • Birth of your child
  • Death of a close relative
  • Moving house
  • Care of a close relative

READ MORE: For what reasons am I allowed to get a day off work in Switzerland?

What if you get sick?

In case of illness, if you are absent for more than three days, you must present a medical certificate mentioning your diagnosis and how many days (or weeks or months) you will be absent from work.

While menstruation is not a valid reason per se to miss work (especially if you are a man), having symptoms that prevent you from performing your job could be.

During this time you will continue to receive your salary for a period of time based on the duration of your employment and whether your company has a sickness benefit insurance for employees.

Generally speaking, if your illness is protracted, your job might not be there waiting for you until you recover — you are protected from dismissal only for a limited period of time, depending on how long you have been employed at a company.

READ MORE: Reader question: Does my Swiss employer have a right to fire me when I’m sick?

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/06/03 12:02

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