SDG 5 and Parental Leave in SVG
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
A recent infographic released by UN Women indicates that only 63 countries comply with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO)minimum maternity leave standards, stipulating that mothers should be granted at least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave and that only 28 percent of employed women worldwide enjoy any paid maternity leave in practice.
Sustainable Development Goal 5 (Gender Equality), under target 5.4 encourages countries to promote “shared responsibility within the household and the family”. Shared responsibility would of course include childcare responsibilities and as such where there is a vast difference between the time given to men for paternity leave and the time given to women for maternity leave, the responsibility is very likely to devolve into one borne mostly by the woman.
The ILO’s standards pertaining to maternity leave are reflected in the The Maternity Protection Convention 1919 makes provision for a period of up to six weeks maternity leave and which was revised in 1952 to provide that the period of maternity leave should be at least 12 weeks and include a period of compulsory leave after confinement of no less that 6 weeks. In the year 2000 the recommendation was for 14 weeks leave upon production of the relevant medical certificate. Of course, International Conventions can only serve as guidelines in the absence of ratification by the individual countries. SVG has been an ILO member since 31st April, 1995, but has not to date ratified any of the Maternity Protection Conventions.
The Wages Council Act Cap 217 sets out the threshold for entitlement to maternity leave. Under the act agricultural workers, industrial workers, domestic workers, workers in the offices of professionals, shop assistants and security workers are entitled to four weeks maternity leave and a minimum of 35% of their wages.
As pertains to paternity leave the Act is silent and no ILO standard exists in reference to paternity leave. However, countries have begun adopting the approach of classifying leave as parental leave and allowing parents to engage in the balancing exercise for themselves.
It is hoped that as SVG continues to engage in legislative reform, some thought will be given to upgrading these standards.