Report

Maternity and paternity at work around the world – An ILO Report

The year 2019 will mark both the ILO’s 100th anniversary and the first centenary of international labour standards on maternity protection. In fact, protecting maternity at work was one of the primary concerns of the ILO. It was during the first International Labour Conference in 1919 that the first Convention on maternity protection (Convention No. 3) was adopted. Capture d’écran 2014-05-15 à 08.15.46

The Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world report reviews national legislative provisions on maternity protection at work in 185 countries and territories (including leave, benefits, employment protection, health protection, breastfeeding arrangements at work and childcare), statistical coverage in law and in practice of paid maternity leave as well as statutory provision of paternity, parental and adoption leaves. It shows how well national laws and practice conform to the ILO Maternity Protec- tion Convention, 2000 (No. 183), its accompanying Recommendation (No. 191) and the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156). The report is based on the ILO Working Conditions Laws Database – Maternity Protection and an ILO statistical methodology to estimate coverage in law and in practice.

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It offers a rich international comparative analysis of law and practice relating to maternity protection at work in 185 countries and territories, comprising leave, cash benefits, employment protection and non-discrimination, health protection, breastfeeding arrangements at work and childcare. Expanding on previous editions, it is based on an extensive set of new legal and statistical indicators, including coverage in law and in practice of paid maternity leave as well as statutory provision of paternity and parental leave and their evolution over the last 20 years.

The report also takes account of the recent economic crisis and austerity measures. It shows how well national laws and practice conform to the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183), its accompanying Recommendation (No. 191) and the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), and offers guidance on policy design and implementation.

This report shows that a majority of countries have established legislation to protect and support maternity and paternity at work, even if those provisions do not always meet the ILO standards. One of the persistent challenges is the effective implementation of legislation, to ensure that all workers are able to benefit from these essential labour rights.

Over time, there has been a gradual improvement in maternity protection across the world. In 1994, 38 per cent of countries for which information was available provided at least 14 weeks of maternity leave. By 2013, among this same set of countries, 51 per cent provided at least 14 weeks of maternity leave. During this period, there has also been a shift away from unpaid leave schemes and employer liability systems of financing maternity benefits. The percentage of coun- tries that provide unpaid leave dropped from 5 to 1 per cent, while those that finance cash benefits through employer liability systems decreased from 31 per cent to 23 per cent. There was an overall shift towards col- lective funding systems in which social insurance or public funds alone or in conjunction with employers take responsibility for paying benefits. Some positive changes occurred despite the economic crisis, especially in middle-income countries, although some Developed Economies that were hardest hit by the economic crisis cut some of their supports to families or postponed announced reforms as part of austerity measures.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world.

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