The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

New Book Finds that Latin America Guarantees Paid Leave to New Mom's, But Dad's Have to Keep Working

Study Examines Work-Related Policies in 190 Countries, Including All of Latin America


A new book finds that
Latin America is doing well, compared to the rest of the world, in
providing paid leave for new mothers and paid sick leave, but could do
better in providing wage premiums for night work, parental leave for
new fathers, and paid leave for providers to care for sick family
members. The study includes an analysis of work-related policies in 190
countries, combined with an in-depth examination of the working
conditions faced by 55,000 households in seven countries on five
continents, and detailed interviews of over 2,000 working adults and
employers in fourteen countries around the world.

The book, Raising the Global
Floor: Dismantling the Myth that We Can't Afford Good Working
Conditions for Everyone
(available today from Stanford
University Press), by Jody Heymann and Alison Earle, finds that while
61 nations around the world provide a wage premium for night work; many
Latin American countries do not, including Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba,
Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, and others. No Latin American nations
provide more than two weeks of paid parental leave for new fathers;
globally, 54 countries do provide this. While 48 countries provide paid
leave to address children's health needs and 33 provide paid leave for
adult family members' health needs, only two countries in Latin America
do so: El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The authors make the point that Latin American countries can afford to
implement these policies; globally, none of these working conditions
are linked with lower levels of economic competitiveness or employment.
Of the world's 15 most competitive countries, all 15 provide leave to
care for children's health needs, 12 provide leave to care for adult
family members, 12 provide paid leave for new fathers, and 3 provide a
night wage premium.

The book finds that Latin America is comparatively generous in other
areas of work-related policies and benefits. All of Latin America
guarantees paid leave for new mothers, with most Latin American nations
providing at least 14 weeks. All Latin American countries also
guarantee paid sick leave, with many Latin American nations providing
at least 6 months of leave for serious illnesses (although Bolivia,
Chile, and Argentina lag behind this 6-month standard).

The book's findings are based on policy research the authors conducted
on the 190 countries profiled, and the statistical evidence is
complemented by case studies that underscore the human impact of
work-related policies:

Gabriela Saavedra worked seven days a week in a
Korean-owned sweatshop in Honduras. Her days typically began at 7 a.m.
and ended at 6 p.m. ... Employees were given an ultimatum: either they
worked mandatory overtime or they lost their jobs. Some days Gabriela
had gone without sleep because she had been forced to work until 5 a.m.
She had little time to eat or go to the bathroom.

Author Jody Heymann is Founding Director of the Institute for Health
and Social Policy. She is the co-author of the CEPR papers "Contagion
Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries
(May 2009), "A
Review of Sickness-related Leave in 22 High Human Development Index
" (May 2009), and "Paid
Sick Days Don't Cause Unemployment
," (June 2009).

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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