January 26, 2017
Expanded Maternity Bill reaches Senate plenary
A bill that seeks to increase the paid maternity leave of working women reaches the Senate plenary on Wednesday.
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, Chair of both the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and Senate Committee on Women, sponsored Senate Bill No. 1305 otherwise known as the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017. The proposed measure wants to increase the number of paid maternity leave from the current 60 days to 120 days, and an additional 30 days to solo working mothers.
"A new generation bill"
Hontiveros said that the last time that the number of paid maternity leave was increased was in 1992 or 25 years ago. She described the proposed measure a "new generation bill" that will respond to the pre and post-natal health needs of different working women and everyday realities faced by the modern Filipino family.
"Today is a very exciting day for many working women. We are now in the middle of our work in reforming our antiquated maternity leave policy by aligning it with international standards, and providing it with a strong emphasis on our women's reproductive work," Hontiveros said in a press conference.
Hontiveros said the bill has several progressive provisions aside from doubling the number of paid maternity leave days of women workers. She explained that 30 days of the proposed 120 maternity leave are transferrable to alternate caregivers (spouse, common-law partner, relative up to the 4th degree of consanguinity) including adoptive parents. She called this the "Daddy quota" of the proposed measure.
Available to people in the informal economy
Hontiveros said that the bill also has a provision of 120 days maternity leave for female workers in the private and public sector, as well as in the informal economy, with the option to extend for 30 days without pay.
"This bill is revolutionary. It will not only give due recognition to women reproductive rights, it will also push for a more equal distribution of child care among Filipino families by recognizing the role of fathers, adoptive parents and alternate caregivers," Hontiveros said.
Under the existing law, women workers may take a leave of 60 days with pay equivalent to 100% of their basic salary, allowances and other benefits. For women who undergo caesarian deliveries, they are entitled to take a leave of 78 days with pay.
The International Labor Organization's (ILO) convention 183 mandates a minimum 98 days maternity leave. Vietnam provides 120 to one hundred eighty 180 days of maternity leave, depending on working conditions and nature of the work. Meanwhile, Singapore, provides 112 days of maternity leave. On the other hand, ASEAN countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand all provide a maternity leave period of 84 days.
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