Maternity leave around the world “In European economies, there are records of women who had to sign letters of resignation at the time of employment, to be used if they became pregnant or had to stop for illness or family reasons.” Approximately 830 mi …

Maternity leave around the world

Maternity leave around the world

“In European economies, there are records of women who had to sign letters of resignation at the time of employment, to be used if they became pregnant or had to stop for illness or family reasons.”

Approximately 830 million women worldwide do not have adequate maternity protection in the workplace. The conclusion is in the Maternity and Paternity report at Work: Law and Practice in the World, released on 13 May by the International Labour Organization (ILO). According to the organization, 80% of these women are in Africa and Asia, regions where there is a predominance of informal employment and high rates of maternal and infant mortality.

For this number of working mothers, rights to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, guaranteed employment at the end of leave, access to child care, protection from threats to health and safety during pregnancy and equal treatment in the workplace are not guaranteed in practice. According to the study, these workers mostly are autonomous, migrant domestic workers, agricultural workers, casual or temporary or indigenous or tribal origin.

“To have gender equality, there must be maternity protection. And if you have no equity at home, will be a battle to have it at work. That’s why we need paternity benefits [to stimulate male help at home], child care and other policies to protect the family”, said Shauna Olney, ILO chief on issues of Gender, Equity and Diversity.

According to the document, while 66 of the 185 ILO member countries have committed to at least one of the three subject conventions of the organization , 87 (47%) do not meet the minimum standard of 14 weeks of maternity leave. In relation to paternity leave, out of 167 countries for which there is information, 70 grant it remunerated. The breach of the requirements is higher in developing countries.

The report also found that discrimination in relation to maternity persists in many countries and worsened with the global economic crisis. In European economies, there are records of women who had to sign letters of resignation at the time of employment, to be used if they became pregnant or had to stop for illness or family reasons.

“While the data suggest that many countries adopted their laws to the principles of maternity protection and support to workers with family responsibilities, lack of protection in practice remains one of the biggest challenges for maternity and paternity at work today day”, said the document.

In Brazil, women are entitled to four months of paid maternity leave (16 weeks) from the Social Security system, extendable by two more if the employer allows it. In relation to paternity leave five calendar days are paid from the day of birth. The same rights are extended to heterosexual adoptive parents.

In the case of gay men, is granted leave from work, but the maternity pay was not accepted. Recently, the Justice Department has awarded a gay adoptive parent entitled to receive full pay while caring for his child.

– From the Brazilian metalworkers’ union. Translated by Orlando Martins.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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