The ILO country director in Bangladesh has welcomed the government’s plan to introduce paternity leave as encouraging as it allows fathers to share family responsibilities with mothers.
"In Bangladesh, the labour law provides for maternity leave for four months at full pay for a maximum of two children in order to enable women's participation in the workplace,” said Tuomo Poutiainen on Monday.
His remarks came on a day when the International Labour Organization (ILO) released a new report on Care at work Monday.
Persistent and significant gaps in care services and policies have left hundreds of millions of workers with family responsibilities without adequate protection and support, yet meeting these needs could create almost 300 million jobs by 2035, according to report.
The report, Care at work: Investing in care leave and services for a more gender-equal world of work, finds that three in ten women of reproductive age, or 649 million women, have inadequate maternity protection that does not meet the key requirements of the ILO's Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183).
Poutiainen said investing in the care sector is an important enabling factor for women’s participation in the workplace.
At the same time highly skilled caregiver jobs are an important source of decent work employment accessible to women, which is why ILO supports the initiatives by the Government of Bangladesh in this sector, Poutiainen mentioned.
"So far, the demand by youth for these training opportunities in the care sector has been enthusiastic, and skilled employment in the care sector is expected to rise significantly, following long-term demographic and socio-economic trends," said Poutiainen.
The ILO’s Maternity Protection Convention mandates 14 weeks minimum maternity leave on at least two-thirds of previous earnings, funded by social insurance or public funds.
Eighty-two of the 185 countries surveyed for the report did not meet these standards, although "paid maternity leave or maternity protection is a universal human and labour right", the study says.
At the current pace of reform it will take at least 46 years to achieve minimum maternity leave rights in the countries analyzed, which means the relevant target of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals will not be met.
More than 1.2 billion men of prime reproductive age live in countries with no entitlement to paternity leave, although it would help to balance the work and family responsibilities of both mothers and fathers, the report says.
Where there is paternity leave it remains short – a global average of nine days - creating a large "gender leave gap".
The take-up of paternity leave entitlements is also low; a consequence, the report suggests, of low paternity pay, gender norms and policy design.
The care at work report offers a global overview of national laws, policies and practices on care, including maternity, paternity, parental, child and long-term care. It highlights how some workers fall outside the scope of these legal protections.
In 2019, the Technical and Madrasah Education Division of the Ministry of Education identified demand for the caregiving course with the support from ILO Bangladesh Skills programme.
During 2019-21, Bangladesh Technical and Education Board developed qualification packages including curriculum, competency standards, learning materials, assessment tools etc. for caregiving course.
Trainers and assessors training is going on to meet the demand of caregiving occupations.
In 2021, 94 students enrolled in the NTVQF level-2 caregiving course at the Bangladesh Sweden Polytechnic Institute Kaptai, Khulna Mahila Polytechnic Institute, Sylhet Technical School and College and the Institute of Marine Technology Bagerhat for the first time.
The level 2 competency-based training is for people of all ages.
Local employers (hospitals) partnered with the TVET institutes to provide on the job training and eventually secure employment.
Furthermore, the graduates from caregiving occupations are provided entrepreneurship development training for self-employment.