Guidelines for employers on maternity protection at work

Guidelines for employers on maternity protection at work

For working women, pregnancy and maternity are vulnerable times. Maternity leave and breastfeeding breaks while at work are protected under national and international law in most countries.  Special protection is required in the workplace for expectant and nursing mothers to prevent harm to their health or to health of their children, and they need adequate time to give birth, recover and nurse their children.  They also need social protection to ensure job security that prevents dismissal based on pregnancy or maternity leave.

In Indonesia, the vast majority of workers employed in garment factories are young women who have recently had or are planning to have children in the near future. Despite the many calls for and commitments to maternity protection for all workers, many women are denied such rights and remain vulnerable throughout maternity. In some cases, women workers lack maternity protection at work, because even though they are legally entitled to maternity protection, such rights are not recognized by many employers or are difficult to claim. They fear among other things that work may harm their maternal health or that maternity leave may threaten their livelihoods and economic security.

According to Better Work Indonesia assessment report (Better Work Indonesia 2012), one factory required women to undertake a pregnancy test as a requirement for recruitment. Breastfeeding in particular, is one of the entitlements that is often neglected, due to a myriad of cultural and perceived productivity-related reasons.

Through this guideline, Better Work Indonesia provides practical guidance and advice to employers on pregnant worker-related issues in the workplace.