Maternity Protection and Workers with Family Responsibilities in the Formal and Informal Economy of Ghana. Practices, Gaps and Measures for Improvement


Following the Millennium Development Declaration, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda set out a number of goals aimed at ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives and well- being, achieving gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, promoting decent work and reducing inequalities.

Ghana played a major role at both national and international levels in de ning the post-2015 development agenda and is committed to a development that ‘leaves no one behind’. Ghana is often presented as a role model in Africa when it comes to democracy and socio-economic development. However, inequalities between regions and segments of population are still a challenge to improve the quality of life of the Ghanaian people.

With respect to women, in particular working mothers, the Government, in collaboration with workers’ and employers’ organizations and other national stakeholders, took up the challenge to improve the provision of maternity protection to women living both in rural and urban areas, as well as those working in formal small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the informal economy. In order to assist Ghanaian constituents in this endeavour, the ILO commissioned a study from Middlesex University (United Kingdom) to provide an analysis of the legal, policy and regulatory framework of maternity protection and work-family policies, particularly for workers in SMEs and informal economy. Informed by the guidance of the ILO’s Maternity Protection and Workers with Family Responsibilities instruments, as well as the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) and the ILO Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204), the study also identi es gaps and proposes policy and workplace improvements, taking into account the existing practices in Ghana and worldwide.

The report draws on 100 interviews with employers and workers around the country and was able to acknowledge the most common issues faced by working women and their families in combining a healthy pregnancy, childbirth, and the care of infants with decent work. The most prominent include: the lack of awareness of existing laws on maternity protection rights and bene ts and family-friendly policies, the extension of paid maternity leave for informal and self-employed women based on the set up of social insurance-funded maternity cash bene ts, the improvement of non-contributory schemes, the increase of transport connec- tions in rural areas and the expansion and improvement of the maternal and child health care system.

Social and economic bene ts arise from the improvement of these policies. Research shows that health for mothers and babies and gender equality could be boosted by adequate mater- nity and family-friendly policies. Moreover, for rms, reduction in absenteeism, increasing retention and loyalty not only increase productivity, but also reduce costs, such as recruit- ment and training costs.