Analysis of Maternity leave around the world


The ILO –International Labour Organization- created the first global standard about maternity leave in 1919 aimed at protecting working women before and after childbirth: the Maternity Protection Convention. The standard was revised in 1952 and now calls for a minimum 12-week leave although a 14-week leave is recommended. In countries which provide cash benefits through social security, the ILO standard says that a woman should be paid at a rate of not less than two-thirds of her previous insured earnings, with full health benefits.

More than 120 countries around the world provide paid maternity leave and health benefits by law, including most industrialized nations except United States.

“In all parts of the world, working women who become pregnant are faced with the threat of job loss, suspended earnings and increased health risks due to inadequate safeguards for their employment,” says F. J. Dy-Hammar, Chief, ILO Conditions of Work Branch, who oversaw the report, Maternity Protection at Work.

The countries that provide the most paid maternity leave by law include: the Czech Republic – 28 weeks; Hungary – 24 weeks; Italy – 5 months; Canada – 17 weeks; Spain and Romania – 16 weeks each. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden all provide extensive paid leave which may be taken by either parent, although a portion is reserved for the mother.

Global Maternity Leave Map

HR Strategy_Global Maternity leave map
HR Strategy_Global Maternity leave map

Currently, 119 countries meet the ILO standard of 12 weeks with 62 of those countries providing for 14 weeks or more. Just 31 countries mandate a maternity leave of less than 12 weeks. More than 120 countries around the world provide paid maternity leave and health benefits by law, including most industrialized nations except United States.

A minimum length of service with the same employer is the most common condition of maternity leave. Some examples include a minimum of three months of employment in Switzerland; six months in Libya, Syria (in agriculture) and Somalia; six months during the year preceding the birth in Egypt and the Philippines; one year in Australia, Bahamas, Jamaica, Mauritius, Namibia, New Zealand and United Arab Emirates, and two years in Gambia and Zambia.

Employment Protection: The ILO says that an essential element in maternity protection is a legal guarantee to pregnant women and young mothers that they will not lose their jobs as a result of pregnancy, absence on maternity leave or the birth of a child.

The guarantee is an essential means of preventing maternity from becoming a source of discrimination against women in employment. Loss of continuity in employment is a major handicap for women’s career advancement and is costly in terms of lost seniority and reduced pensions, paid annual leave and other employment-related benefits.

Summarizing, we can say that there is a long way to run in relation with the maternity leave in order to standarize this benefit as a global level. Even in some industrialized countries as United States is not still a benefit required by law.

In addition, I would to add another point to consider how is the paternity leave fro men. Where and How is the paternity leave around the globe? Don’t you think it could help to get the work equality of opportunities for women?

Anxious to hear your views.

Note: Information provided by ILO & Wikipedia.

Borja Burguillos & Maria Lopez

Author: Borja Burguillos

Global People Strategy

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