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Maternity Protection in International Law and Practice in South-East Asia
The tables below were prepared as a resource for the recent IUF Southeast Asia Maternity Protection workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 27-28 September 2004. The first table summarises the most important points of ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection (2000), by looking at seven key areas. The tables thereafter look at each of these seven areas, and compare national legislation across the five Southeast Asia countries which were represented at the workshop in Jakarta. None of these five countries has yet ratified ILO Convention 183.

These materials are intended as a reference for campaigning for ratification of ILO Convention 183, or a training resource for trade unionists, or in collective bargaining around the issue of maternity protection.

This document is available to download in word and acrobat formats.

More information on maternity protection worldwide can be found at: the Maternity Protection webpage of the Bureau of Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) of the International Labour Organisation.

Seven Key Issue Areas In ILO Convention No. 183 on Maternity Protection
Protection Convention 183
1. Scope (Who is Protected?)
  • All married and unmarried employed women including those in atypical forms of work
  • 2. Amount of Leave
  • Not less than 14 weeks (remember: ILO Recommendation 191 calls for 18 weeks)
  • Provision for 6 weeks compulsory postnatal leave
  • 3. Cash Benefits
  • Two thirds of a woman's previous earnings OR Equivalent payment
  • Benefits to be provided from social insurance or public funds or determined by national law and practice
  • 4. Medical Benefits
  • Prenatal, childbirth and postnatal care and hospitalisation care when necessary
  • 5. Health Protection
  • Pregnant and nursing women shall not be obliged to perform work that is assessed as detrimental to the mother or child
  • 6. Employment Protection and Discrimination
  • Unlawful for employer to dismiss a woman during pregnancy, whilst on maternity leave or nursing, unless the reasons are unrelated to pregnancy or nursing, and the burden of proof rests with the employer
  • Guaranteed right to return to the same position or an equivalent position with equal pay
  • Protection against discrimination in employment (eg hiring policies) on grounds of maternity
  • Prohibition of pregnancy testing at recruitment
  • 7. Breaks For Breastfeeding/Childcare
  • Right to one or more daily breaks for breastfeeding/lactation
  • Right to daily reduction of daily working hours for breastfeeding
  • Breaks or reduction in hours counted as working time and therefore paid.
    1. Scope - Who is Covered?
    Thailand Private sector - (Women working at workplaces with 10 or more workers and with contributions to Social Welfare Fund for at least seven months) and public sector (civil servants and state-owned enterprises) NOT domestic workers.
    Cambodia All workers EXCEPT domestic workers, civil servants, Armed Forces and Police.
    Malaysia All workers employed longer than 90 days, EXCEPT domestic workers and manual labourers.
    Philippines Any employed woman who has made 3 or more monthly contributions to Social Security, including domestic workers whose salary exceeds 1,000 pesos per month [US$20].
    Indonesia All women workers.
    2. Amount of Leave
      Amount of Leave Limits/Conditions
    Thailand 90 days Applies for up to 2 births.
    Cambodia 90 days -
    Malaysia 60 days Applies for up to 5 births. Women who miscarry after 28 weeks or have still births are also covered.
    Philippines 60 days; 78 days for caesarian section deliveries. 4 wks must be taken after the birth - applies for up to 4 births, including miscarriage.
    Indonesia 3 months 1.5 mths must be taken after the birth.
    3. Cash Benefits
      Pay Who Pays?
    Thailand Full (for those making contributions to social welfare fund for at least 7 months). 45 days - employer; 45 days - social welfare fund.
    Cambodia Half (only for those employed longer than 1 year). Employer
    Malaysia Full (for those employed longer than 90 days). Employer
    Philippines Full Social security system (two different funds for private and public employees).
    Indonesia Full Employer
    4. Medical Benefits
    There is no legislated requirement in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines or Indonesia to provide medical benefits such as pre-natal, childbirth or post-natal care, or hospitalisation care.
    5. Health protection
      Protection Conditions/Sanctions
    Thailand Employee is entitled to request a temporary change in duties before or after childbirth, and the employer 'shall consider' changing her duties. Employee must provide doctors' certificate.
    Cambodia For the first two months after maternity leave the employee is expected only to perform light work. Minimal fines
    Malaysia Women workers in general cannot be required to work between 10:00pm and 5:00am without a dispensation from the Director-General. But no specific protections for pregnant employees or new mothers. -
    Philippines There are certain restrictions upon women working between 10:00pm and 6:00am, although exceptions can be made by the Dept. of Labour. No specific protections for pregnant employees or new mothers. -
    Indonesia Employers are forbidden to require pregnant employees to work between 11:00pm and 07:00am if the employee provides a doctor's certificate stating that it would endanger the pregnancy. 1 - 12 months' gaol sentence and/or a fine of between Rp10 million [US$1,100] and Rp.100 million [US$11,000].
    6. Employment Protection and Discrimination
      Protection Sanction
    Thailand Prohibited for an employer to terminate a woman's employment because of her pregnancy. Up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than 600,000B [US$15,000]
    Cambodia Prohibited for an employer to terminate a woman during her maternity leave or at a date when the end of notice period would fall during maternity leave. Minimal fines
    Malaysia No female employee may be dismissed from her employment whilst she is on maternity leave. ?
    Philippines It is unlawful for any employer:
    -To deny any woman employee the maternity benefits or to dismiss any woman the purpose of preventing her from enjoying any of the maternity benefits;
    - To discharge such woman on account of her pregnancy or while on leave or in confinement due to her pregnancy;
    - To discharge or refuse the admission of such woman upon returning to her work for fear that she may again be pregnant.
    Criminal liability.
    Indonesia It is prohibited for an employer to dismiss a woman for reasons of pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage or breastfeeding. -
    7. Breaks for Breastfeeding and Childcare Provisions
    Thailand -
    Cambodia For one year following childbirth, breastfeeding mothers are entitled to one hour break (or 2 x 30 min) per day. Enterprises employing more than 100 women shall establish nursing rooms and day care centre. Enterprises not able to establish such facilities shall pay for the costs of childcare for their employees.
    Malaysia -
    Philippines -
    Indonesia Employers should provide a suitable place for breastfeeding mothers to nurse their children during work hours.

    Relevant Labour Laws:

    Cambodia: Labor Law of 1997
    Indonesia: Manpower Act No. 13 of 2003
    Thailand: Labour Protection Act 1998, Social Security Act
    Philippines: Labor Code, Social Security Law
    Malaysia: Employment Act, 1955

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