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Maternity Protections and Employee Rights




The International Labour Conference, a deliberative body of the International Labour Organization has adopted the revised Maternity Protection Convention 183. Governments across the globe are considering ratification of this important international law. Education International, together with other international trade unions, identified key rights that were necessary to be included in the new convention.

Women teachers make up the largest number of unionized women workers in the world. Due to this, Education International has a special responsibility in transforming international law to benefit education employees.

For women in developing and industrialized nations, Convention 183 will provide an important security, which will guide the development and implementation of domestic laws governing maternity protections. Although the United States rarely ratifies ILO treaties, Convention 183 would benefit women in the United States.

Family and Medical Leave Act
This United States law provides that working mothers (or fathers) can take a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to care for the birth of a child and the care of a newborn. The Family and Medical Leave Act applies only to employees working in companies with 50 or more workers. The law was passed in 1993.

Nine Key Points of the Maternity Protection Convention

    1. Includes all women, including those employed in the informal sector.

    2. Provides for protection of the health of the mother and the child.

    3. Ensures that pregnant and breastfeeding women are not required to perform work which risks their health.

    4. Extends maternity leave to 14 weeks with compulsory leave of 6 weeks.

    5. Additional leave shall be provided, as necessary to maternal health prior and/or after birth.

    6. Cash benefits to new mothers shall be paid "at a level which ensures that the woman can maintain herself and her child in proper conditions of health and with a suitable standard of living."

    7. Maternity leave shall be paid for through a government fund unless employers agree that they shall pay for the leave.

    8. It is unlawful to terminate employment due to pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

    9. Breastfeeding breaks for working women shall be provided by the employer and shall be counted and remunerated as working time.

Maternity Benefits in Other Nations
Women in many countries fare far better with maternity rights than women in the United States. The chart below is a sampling of maternity leave benefits in 15 nations taken from The World?s Women 2000 by the United Nations.

    Industrialized
    Nations

    Denmark
    Hungary
    Spain
    United Kingdom
    United States
    Length of
    Maternity Leave

    18 weeks
    24 weeks
    16 weeks
    14-18 weeks
    12 weeks
    Percentage of wages
    paid in covered period

    100
    100
    100
    90 for 6 weeks, flat rate thereafter
    0
    Africa
    Angola
    Cote d'Ivoire
    Kenya
    South Arica

    90 days
    14 weeks
    2 months
    12 weeks

    100
    100
    100
    45
    Latin America/
    Caribbean

    Argentina
    Brazil
    Cuba

    90 days
    120 days
    18 weeks

    100
    100
    100
    Asia
    Israel
    Philippines
    Viet Nam

    12 weeks
    60 days
    4-6 months

    75
    100
    100