Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world

The study reviews national law and practice on both maternity and paternity at work in 185 countries and territories including leave, benefits, employment protection, health protection, breastfeeding arrangements at work and childcare.


This report provides a picture of where we stand and what we have learned so far about maternity and paternity rights across the world. 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.