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Women At Work. 1984; (2):1-71.This document describes the current status of maternity protection legislation in developed and developing countries and is based primarily on the findings of the International Labor Organization's (ILO's) global assessment of laws and regulations concerning working women before and after pregnancy. The global survey collected information from 18 Asian and Pacific countries, 36 African nations, 28 North and South American countries, 14 Middle Eastern countries, 19 European market economy countries, and 11 European socialist countries. Articles in 2 ILO conventions provide standards for maternity protection. According to the operative clauses of these conventions working women are entitled to 1) 12 weeks of maternity leave, 2) cash benefits during maternity leaves, 3) nursing breaks during the work day, and 4) protection against dismissal during maternity. Most countries have some qualifying conditions for granting maternity leaves. These conditions either state that a worker must be employed for a certain period of time or contributed to an insurance plan over a defined period of time before a maternity leave will be granted. About 1/2 of the countries in the Asia and Pacific region, the Americas, Africa, and in the Europe market economy group provide maternity leaves of 12 or more weeks. In all European socialist countries, women are entitled to at least 12 weeks maternity leave and in many leaves are considerably longer than 12 months. In the Middle East all but 3 countries provide leaves of less than 12 weeks. Most countries which provide maternity leaves also provide cash benefits, which are usually equivalent to 50%-100% of the worker's wages, and job protection during maternity leaves. Some countries extend job protection beyond the maternity leave. For example, in Czechoslovakia women receive job protection during pregnancy and for 3 years following the birth, if the woman is caring for the child. Nursing breaks are allowed in 5 of the Asian and Pacific countries, 30 of African countries, 18 of the countries in the Americas, 9 of the Middle East countries, 16 of European market economy countries, and in all of the European socialist countries. Several new trends in maternity protection were observed in the survey. A number of countries grant child rearing leaves following maternity leaves. In some countries these leaves can be granted to either the husband or the wife. Some countries have regulations which allow parents to work part time while rearing their children and some permit parents to take time off to care for sick children. In most of the countries, the maternity protection laws and regulations are applied to government workers and in many countries they are also applied to workers in the industrial sector. A list of the countries which have ratified the articles in the ILO convenants concerning maternity benefits is included.