Maternity protection
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Maternity protection

Raising a family is a cherished goal for many working people. Yet pregnancy and maternity are an especially vulnerable time for working women and their families. Expectant and nursing mothers require special protection to prevent harm to their or their infants' health, and they need adequate time to give birth, to recover, and to nurse their children. At the same time, they also require protection to ensure that they will not lose their job simply because of pregnancy or maternity leave. Such protection not only ensures a woman's equal access to employment, it also ensures the continuation of often vital income which is necessary for the well-being of her entire family.

Safeguarding the health of expectant and nursing mothers and protecting them from job discrimination is a precondition for achieving genuine equality of opportunity and treatment for men and women at work and enabling workers to raise families in conditions of security.

Key resources

  1. Maternity Protection Resource Package

    This online Resource Package provides information and tools to help strengthen and extend maternity protection to all women in all types of economic activity.

Maternity at work


  1. Interview

    Questions and answers about maternity at work

    Achievements and challenges in the field of maternity protection, including the impact of the economic and employment crises.

  2. Data collection

    Maternity Leave Indicators

    The legal framework indicators for “Combining work, family and personal life” measure the existence and scope of maternity, paternity and parental leave laws.

  3. Publication

    Workplace solutions for childcare

    An ILO study on how workplaces are helping with childcare to allow more women to remain in paid employment.

  4. Maternity protection and Decent work

    Millenium Development Goal n°5: Improve maternal health

    The problems associated with maternity and childbirth are closely linked to poverty, inadequate working conditions and gender inequality.

Find out more from ILO programmes

Standards and laws

International Labour standards
  1. ILO Convention No. 183 defines 5 core elements of maternity protection at work:
- Maternity leave
- Cash and medical benefits
- Employment protection and non-discrimination
- Health protection
- Breastfeeding arrangements at the workplace
  1. Other relevant International Conventions and Recommendations
National laws
  1. Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws
  2. A review of national legislation (2nd edition)
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