Belarus - Social development

The government has subsidized food and other basic goods to preserve social stability. Many factories have given workers mandatory unpaid vacations and four-day workweeks to avoid closing down. Old age, disability, and survivors are protected by a social insurance system updated in 1999. Sickness, maternity, work injury, family allowance and unemployment insurance legislation were revised in 1992 and 1993. The 1993 law on pensions requires employers to contribute between 4.7% to 35% of payroll, depending on the type of company. Retirement is set at age 60 for men and age 55 for women.

The human rights record of Belarus has worsened in recent years, after President Lukashenka amended the constitution to extend his stay in office and handpick members of parliament. Reports of police brutality are widespread and prison conditions are poor. Arbitrary arrests and detention have been reported, as well as incidents of severe hazing in the military. The government abridges freedom of the press, speech, assembly, religion, and movement. Religious freedom and equality is provided for in the Constitution, but religions other than Russian Orthodox are discriminated against.

While there are no legal restrictions on women's participation in public life, social barriers are considerable, and women with children commonly experience discrimination when it comes to job opportunities. The law mandates equal pay for equal work, but few women reach senior management or government positions.

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