How do maternity leave works in Latin America?

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Cuba and Chile have the longest license days, while Paraguay and Haiti have the lowest.

How do maternity leave works in Latin America?
Leer en español: ¿Cómo funcionan las licencias de maternidad en Latinoamérica?

Maternity leave consists of a paid rest period conferred by law on women immediately after they have a child. This time is recognized by the presiding health organization to which the mother is affiliated, regardless of whether it is linked to the organization as independent, by the contract of employment, or by agreement of provision of services. The purpose of these licenses is to allow new mothers to spend time with their children to facilitate breastfeeding (taking into account that the World Health Organization recommends at least six months of breastfeeding) and the creation of links, as well as allow the mother to recover from childbirth and pregnancy.

Also read: How much can it cost you everything you need for a comfortable breastfeeding?

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labor Organization recommend an average time of 14 weeks of paid leave, however, a report from the Center for Public Policy Analysis of the School of Public Health of the University of California in Los Angeles states that in different Latin American countries the time allowed by law is less than that recommended by UNICEF.

Latin America, licenses below the recommended

Thus, the Latin American countries with the longest maternity leave are Cuba with 58 weeks, Chile with 30 and Venezuela with 26, followed by Costa Rica and Brazil with 17 weeks. Uruguay, Colombia, and Panama meet the recommended minimum of 14 weeks, while Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru give mothers 13 weeks of leave and the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua are located in the Latin American average with 12 weeks. Finally, the countries with the least time off are Paraguay and Haiti with 9 and 6 weeks respectively and, according to UNICEF, Suriname is the only country in Latin America that does not offer paid maternity leave.

Similarly, some countries grant licenses to parents to spend time with their children during the early stages of development. For example, according to data from the Center for Public Policy Analysis of UCLA, Chilean parents have one week of leave, and of the 30 weeks granted to mothers, 6 can be transferred to parents.

Similarly, in Cuba, the first 18 weeks of leave must be taken by the mother, while the remaining weeks can be distributed between the father and the mother. In Venezuela, according to a study by MenCare and Michael Page, parents have 14 working days (not weekends) of license, in Uruguay with 10, in Colombia with 8, in Peru with 4 and in Argentina recently approved 2 working days of leave for parents, who previously had two days of leave regardless of whether they were during the week or the weekend.

Finally, it should be noted that most countries allow the extension of maternity leave for a couple of weeks in case the child is born with a disability or requires additional hospital care. In the same way, countries like Mexico allow 6-week licenses for mothers who adopt a child. Also, mothers who wish to spend more time with their children have the possibility of an extension of maternity leave without remuneration, but with the guarantee of not losing their job.


LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño

Translated from "¿Cómo funcionan las licencias de maternidad en Latinoamérica?"