A National Insurance Scheme covers all employed and self-employed persons between the ages of 16 and 59. Social welfare benefits include workers' compensation, maternity and health insurance, death benefits, disability, and old age pensions. Workers contributed 4.8% of earnings, and employers made a7.2% payroll contribution. Retirement pensions are 40% of average weekly earnings, disability pensions are 30%, and survivor benefits are 50% of the payable old age or disability pension. Maternity benefits are available for 13 weeks.
The 1990 Equal Rights Act which was intended to end sex discrimination has proven difficult to enforce because it lacks a specific definition of discrimination. An antidiscrimination act passed in 1997 was intended to strengthen enforcement of the 1990 law. There is no legal protection against sexual harassment in the workplace or dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy. Legislation passed in 1990 strengthened women's property rights in cases of divorce. Although the law defines and criminalizes domestic violence, it remains pervasive. There is still social stigma attached to victims of rape, therefore the incidents largely go unreported.
Amerindians are regulated by the Amerindian Act which was initially introduced during colonial times. Although the Act is not usually enforced, it limits the rights of indigenous peoples by banning the sale of alcohol to Amerindians, and requiring them to obtain government permission prior to accepting a job. Guyana continues to have serious human rights problems, including police abuses, pretrial detention, and poor prison conditions.