why did the Senate vote against?

why did the Senate vote against

This Thursday, February 15, 2024, senators rejected the socialist bill providing for the establishment of a specific stop for menstruating people with painful periods.

The Senate made a “regrettable” choice according to socialist parliamentarians. The upper house of Parliament rejected their bill allowing the establishment of menstrual leave for people suffering from painful periods, or dysmenorrhea, this Thursday, February 15. The text carried by Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret and “aimed at improving and guaranteeing the health and well-being of women at work” was rejected by 206 votes, including those of right-wing senators and centrist allies, against 117.

By this rejection of the establishment of menstrual leave, “we have lost the opportunity not to be ahead, but to support the evolution of society”, regretted socialist senator Laurence Rossignol. Her colleague Hélène Conway-Mouret who wanted to “support and supervise a movement launched with courage in the public and private sectors” also showed herself to be very disappointed by the vote of the Senate which had the opportunity to prove that it is “attentive as much to the expectations of our fellow citizens and to the needs of communities and businesses.”

If the left was in favor of the bill, senators from the center and the right expressed several reservations. The senator related to the Les Républicains group, Béatrice Gosselin, said she feared “unwanted side effects” of menstrual leave, in particular an attack on “the privacy of the person” or the cost of the measure for Social Security. Frédéric Valletoux, the Minister Delegate in charge of Health and from the Horizons party, himself opposed the measure, saying he feared a “risk of discrimination in hiring” for women using this leave. However, he assured that he wanted to “continue to break taboos”.

What did the bill provide for?

The socialist bill for the establishment of menstrual leave defined the legal framework of the measure and was inspired by several initiatives taken on a small scale, as well as abroad. Concretely, the text provided that menstruating people could take up to two days off per month, provided they provide a medical certificate confirming that they have painful periods, due to endometriosis for example. It allowed doctors to provide certificates valid for one year. This measure aimed to prevent these women from having to take sick leave in the event of their inability to work during their periods, which would result in a loss of income for them due to waiting days.

Several communities are already adopting menstrual leave

Menstrual leave has already been tested at community level, such as the town hall of Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis), but also several French companies. The city of Grenoble announced its implementation during the year, while the mayor of Paris sent a letter to Elisabeth Borne last April to ask her on the subject. A law providing for this specific work stoppage was adopted in Spain in 2023. In Japan, it has existed since 1947.

“Women have always been forced to make the fact that they have their periods invisible, even though they are painful for one in two women, often incapacitating to the point of preventing them from working optimally, or even creating real obstacles in their careers,” lamented Hélène Conway-Mouret at the opening of the debate this Thursday. For the socialist, if the text is adopted, “the Senate will demonstrate once again that it is attentive both to the expectations of our fellow citizens and to the needs of communities and businesses.”