In 1986, legislation established a social security system, replacing the provident fund that had been in existence since 1970. Workers contribute 2.5% of earnings, while employers pay 3.5% of payroll distributions. Benefits are provided for old age, disability, death, sickness, and maternity, and have been expanded to cover the self-employed. Employers fund a compulsory workers' compensation program. The worker is eligible for a pension at age 60, or earlier if incapacitated. Maternity benefits are provided at a rate of 65% of average earnings for a period of 13 weeks. Workers' compensation is provided through compulsory employer liability insurance with a private carrier.
St. Vincent also has an extensive program of community development, which stimulates the formation of cooperatives and self-help programs in the rural communities. A national family planning program has been introduced as part of the government's maternal and child welfare services.
The minimum wage law mandates that women receive equal pay for equal work. Violence against women remains a serious problem, although the government is increasing attention to the issue. A domestic violence law establishes a family court to handle cases of spousal abuse, and consequently more women are coming forward with complaints. The penalty for rape is usually 10 or more years in prison.
Human rights violations include the use of physical force to extract confessions and inadequate prison conditions.