This research partnership between the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Awaj Foundation sought to understand the current state of maternity rights and gender-based discrimination in the RMG factories in Bangladesh. Using a mixed quantitative (survey) and qualitative (interviews) methodology, the study tried to understand the following issues:
- The level of awareness among women workers on maternity leave and benefits
- Whether the laws on benefits are actually implemented and received by the workers
- What are the challenges in implementing the benefits/facilities that workers are entitled to
- Whether and how often factory management provides awareness raising trainings to the workers on maternity issues
The findings of the study were presented to a multi-stakeholder group in Dhaka in July, 2018, consisting of brands, buyers, factory management, civil society and workers’ representatives. The key findings are as follows:
- There is widespread lack of knowledge about workers about their legal entitlement to maternity leave and benefits. Although the majority of workers (92%) believed that they know what the law is, around a third of respondents had no clear idea on the duration of leave, and more than half (56%) said that maternity leave is 15 weeks (it is 16 weeks in the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006).
- Women workers often face difficulties in getting their maternity leave and benefits. Around 55% of workers reported receiving monetary benefits, but only 25% of them knew what type of benefits they were legally entitled to. 14% of the respondents said that no maternity leave or benefits are provided in their factories. Cases were also found where pregnant workers were forced to resign by the management.
- Dispensation of maternity benefits often depend on the willingness of the management and workers who are on ‘good terms’ with them may receive them. On the other hand, women who are deemed to be troublemakers are often denied leave and benefits.
- When maternity benefit is provided, it is often lower than the legally mandated amount.
A report summarizing the findings and feedback from the stakeholders will be released in December, 2018.