Recommendation 191


The General Conference of the International Labour Organization,

Having been convened at Geneva by the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, and having met in its 88th Session on 30 May 2000, and

Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to maternity protection, which is the fourth item on the agenda of the session, and

Having determined that these proposals shall take the form of a Recommendation supplementing the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention"),

adopts this fifteenth day of June of the year two thousand the following Recommendation, which may be cited as the Maternity Protection Recommendation, 2000.

Maternity leave

1. (1) Members should endeavour to extend the period of maternity leave referred to in Article 4 of the Convention to at least 18 weeks.

  1. Absatz 2Provision should be made for an extension of the maternity leave in the event of multiple births.
  2. Absatz 3To the extent possible, measures should be taken to ensure that the woman is entitled to choose freely the time at which she takes any non-compulsory portion of her maternity leave, before or after childbirth.


2. Where practicable, and after consultation with the representative organizations of employers and workers, the cash benefits to which a woman is entitled during leave referred to in Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention should be raised to the full amount of the woman's previous earnings or of such of those earnings as are taken into account for the purpose of computing benefits.

3. To the extent possible, the medical benefits provided for in Article 6, paragraph 7, of the Convention should include:

  1. Absatz a
    care given in a doctor's office, at home or in a hospital or other medical establishment by a general practitioner or a specialist;
  2. Absatz b
    maternity care given by a qualified midwife or by another maternity service at home or in a hospital or other medical establishment;
  3. Absatz c
                  maintenance in a hospital or other medical establishment;
  4. Absatz d
    any necessary pharmaceutical and medical supplies, examinations and tests prescribed by a medical practitioner or other qualified person; and
  5. Absatz e
    dental and surgical care.

Financing of benefits

4. Any contribution due under compulsory social insurance providing maternity benefits and any tax based upon payrolls which is raised for the purpose of providing such benefits, whether paid by both the employer and the employees or by the employer, should be paid in respect of the total number of men and women employed, without distinction of sex.

Employment protection and non-discrimination

5. A woman should be entitled to return to her former position or an equivalent position paid at the same rate at the end of her leave referred to in Article 5 of the Convention. The period of leave referred to in Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention should be considered as a period of service for the determination of her rights.

Health protection

6. (1) Members should take measures to ensure assessment of any workplace risks related to the safety and health of the pregnant or nursing woman and her child. The results of the assessment should be made available to the woman concerned.

  1. Absatz 2In any of the situations referred to in Article 3 of the Convention or where a significant risk has been identified under subparagraph (1) above, measures should be taken to provide, on the basis of a medical certificate as appropriate, an alternative to such work in the form of:
    1. Absatz a
      elimination of risk;
    2. Absatz b
      an adaptation of her conditions of work;
    3. Absatz c
      a transfer to another post, without loss of pay, when such an adaptation is not feasible; or
    4. Absatz d
      paid leave, in accordance with national laws, regulations or practice, when such a transfer is not feasible.
  2. Absatz 3Measures referred to in subparagraph 2 should in particular be taken in respect of:
    1. Absatz a
      arduous work involving the manual lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling of loads;
    2. Absatz b
      work involving exposure to biological, chemical or physical agents which represent a reproductive health hazard;
    3. Absatz c
      work requiring special equilibrium;
    4. Absatz d
      work involving physical strain due to prolonged periods of sitting or standing, to extreme temperatures, or to vibration.
  3. Absatz 4A pregnant or nursing woman should not be obliged to do night work if a medical certificate declares such work to be incompatible with her pregnancy or nursing.
  4. Absatz 5The woman should retain the right to return to her job or an equivalent job as soon as it is safe for her to do so.
  5. Absatz 6A woman should be allowed to leave her workplace, if necessary, after notifying her employer, for the purpose of undergoing medical examinations relating to her pregnancy.

Breastfeeding mothers

7. On production of a medical certificate or other appropriate certification as determined by national law and practice, the frequency and length of nursing breaks should be adapted to particular needs.

8. Where practicable and with the agreement of the employer and the woman concerned, it should be possible to combine the time allotted for daily nursing breaks to allow a reduction of hours of work at the beginning or at the end of the working day.

9. Where practicable, provision should be made for the establishment of facilities for nursing under adequate hygienic conditions at or near the workplace.

Related types of leave

10. (1) In the case of the death of the mother before the expiry of postnatal leave, the employed father of the child should be entitled to take leave of a duration equal to the unexpired portion of the postnatal maternity leave.

  1. Absatz 2In the case of sickness or hospitalisation of the mother after childbirth and before the expiry of postnatal leave, and where the mother cannot look after the child, the employed father of the child should be entitled to leave of a duration equal to the unexpired portion of the postnatal maternity leave, in accordance with national law and practice, to look after the child.
  2. Absatz 3The employed mother or the employed father of the child should be entitled to parental leave during a period following the expiry of maternity leave.
  3. Absatz 4The period during which parental leave might be granted, the length of the leave and other modalities, including the payment of parental benefits and the use and distribution of parental leave between the employed parents, should be determined by national laws or regulations or in any manner consistent with national practice.
  4. Absatz 5Where national law and practice provide for adoption, adoptive parents should have access to the system of protection offered by the Convention, especially regarding leave, benefits and employment protection.