Maternity leave: How Vietnam compares to neighbors

By Ha Phuong   January 11, 2017 | 11:00 am PT
The ILO believes Vietnam has fairly progressive policies to protect working mothers.

Vietnamese female workers are offered up to 26 weeks maternity leave, above the average level of 12-13 weeks seen in Southeast Asia, according to the International Labor Organization.

Vietnam has a system of fairly progressive laws and policies in terms of gender equality compared to other regional countries, according to ILO.

The country is the most generous for paid maternity leave in the region, and even in the world. ILO has suggested a minimum of 14 weeks.

“Employee welfare ultimately benefits companies," Tran Thi Le, the trade union head at Huu Nghi Trade and Manufacturing Company in Da Nang, said. "If female employees take six months maternity leave so they can take better care of themselves and their babies after delivery, they will come back healthier and more committed to work.” 

Almost all Southeast Asian countries offer full payment for mothers during their allowed leave, except for Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.

In Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam, leave benefits are covered by social insurance, while in the other countries of the region, employers foot the bills.

Maternity leave is for women to give birth and breastfeeding. Even though the period of maternity leave in Vietnam is long, it should be noted that the exclusive breastfeeding rate for under 6-month children is among the lowest in the region, data from UNICEF showed.

Breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months improves a child’s chance of survival, as well as optimal growth and development, according to UNICEF.

When getting back to work, mothers need support to continue breastfeeding their child. In many countries, female workers have the right to one or more daily breaks for breastfeeding. Those breaks are still counted as working time.

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam currently offer female workers nursing under 12-month children an hour per day to feed their baby and rest. However, a newly proposed amendment to Vietnam's Labor Law aims to scrap this extra break time rule.

Related news:

> Vietnam plans to slash maternity benefits for female workers

> Sleep-deprived mothers upset over draft policy to cut extra break time

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