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Passage of Expanded Maternity Leave bill lauded

Labor groups lauded the approval of the proposed Expanded Maternity Leave law by Congress’ bicameral conference committee.

The Partido ng Manggagawa and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said the Expanded Maternity Law would give working mothers more time to take care of their newly born child and rest before going back to work.

“It’s really the fruit of collective efforts. It became possible when women workers, trade unions and allies in Congress work hand in hand and doing campaigns in many forms just to make things done for the sake of women, their children and their families,” PM secretary-general Judy Miranda said.

The PM is part of Workers for EML, a coalition of women groups in the trade union movement which pushed for the passage of EML in both houses of Congress.

The Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, on the other hand, likewise welcomed the development and considered it as “a sweet victory for Filipino women workers.”

“The Expanded Maternity Leave measure is the country’s non-cash investment in producing a healthy, intelligent and well-developed future breed of Filipino workers without losing the wages and benefits of nursing moms during maternity period and without sacrificing their health and well-being,” ALU-TUCP vice president and Women’s Committee head Eva B. Arcos said.

Once signed into law by the President, the current 60-day maternity leave benefits will be increased to 105 days. This is one week higher than the ILO standard of 98 but it falls short of the 120 days approved by the Senate.

The leave benefit is transferable. It also increases the paternity leave by 100 percent and gives additional 15 days for solo parent. It likewise provides for benefit is 60-day leave benefits for cases of miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.

Over at the Senate, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan noted that longer maternity leaves will be better for moms, babies and families.

“We laud Congress for standing up for the cause of women and families with the passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave measure,” he said.

As one of its authors, Pangilinan said they are elated that soon, the country will soon have a law that will promote better health for both mothers and babies, and one that supports responsible parenthood.

He said this is also a meaningful investment on child development and families as a whole as it helps pave the path for the growth of healthy persons.

“We thank Sen. Risa Hontiveros for her unwavering effort to see the bill through,” said the oppositin leader.

“We hope that when it becomes a law, employers would cooperate and abide by the law, keeping in mind that their employees’ general welfare will redound to workplace excellence and competitiveness,” he added.

For her part, Senator Nancy Binay expressed hope that the expanded maternity leave bill would be signed into law this October as an early Christmas gift to working mothers.

 “I pray and hope that the expanded maternity leave bill becomes a law this month. If the President gets to sign it soon, then it will be an early Christmas gift to working mothers who carry the next generation of Filipinos,” she said.

According to Binay, mothers working in the public and private sectors can avail of 105 days of paid maternity leave under the proposed law. The cap of four pregnancies is also removed by the measure, as all pregnancies will be covered.

“The 105-day maternity leave is a big step in giving particular attention to motherhood premiums.

Binay said that companies and other institutions should not perceive the proposed law as a bane to productivity that would lead to more discrimination in the workplace.

In the Philippines, women have reached a high level of labor force participation but working mothers silently receive motherhood penalties and passed over for promotions and other career advancements because of motherhood duties.

“It pains me to see a mother cutting short the time to bond with her child and go back to work, especially during the crucial period of the infant’s development. The State has a responsibility to provide a positive complement for women in the labor sector, and be mindful of their indespensable roles in society,” Binay said.

Under existing laws, 60 days of maternity leave is granted for normal deliveries, while 90 days is given for caesarean births.

The 60-day provision does not necessarily allow sufficient time for a mother to truly bond and nurture her child after giving birth.

The bicameral version of the of the expanded maternity leave grants single mothers another 15 days of leave, while those who have miscarried will be granted 60 days leave.

An option for additional 30 days of unpaid leave is also provided under the bill.

Binay added that the passage of the law would guarantee the country’s adherence to the International Labor Organization (ILO) standard of 98 days of maternity leaves.

 “Some countries in Europe have recognized that mother and child bonding deserve a longer time, and allowed a year with pay for them. We will be at par with the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) standard of 98 days or the ASEAN coverage of 93 days,” Binay said.

Binay said that with the proposed law, the mother and child can have a longer time of mother and child bonding, which have long term effects on the child’s development and health.

Meanwhile, the state-run Social Security System (SSS) also welcomed the swift passage of the proposed expanded maternity benefit for female workers with identified source of funding during the bicameral conference committee held at the lower house yesterday.

The proposed law or the “105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2018”, a consolidation of Senate Bill 1305 and House Bill 4113, has identified that the amount necessary to implement the Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

“We are very thankful to the bicameral committee as they have seen the need to identify enough funding mechanism to fully implement the proposed law. We, at SSS, recognize their advocacy to provide better social security protection to female workers especially when they put their own life in danger during and after pregnancy,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said.

 “We have yet to compute the numbers for the said measure. We only have actuarial studies for the 100-day and 120-day proposals. In the actuarial study for the 100-day proposal, the maternity benefit disbursement will increase by about P3.6 billion in the initial year of implementation. But that study does not include the unlimited number of covered pregnancies, as well as the additional benefit for solo parents, so we also have to look into that. We’ll present the numbers from our actuarial study soon,” Dooc said.

Earlier, SSS actuarial studies showed that an additional 0.3 percent in monthly contribution is needed if the 100-day expanded maternity bill will be passed into law. So from the current 11 percent monthly contribution capped at monthly salary credit, it would have to increase to 11.3 percent. That would cover for the additional benefit disbursements to be brought about by increasing the maternity benefit payment period to 100 days.

The additional 0.3 percent in monthly contribution would mean an additional P30 for members whose monthly salary credit stands at P10,000. Qualified members whose MSC stood at this level currently receives an average maternity benefit ofP20,400.

If the proposed 100-day maternity leave is granted, the maternity benefit would increase toP31,000 or a 52 percent jump from the current benefit.

“We are not against any proposal that would give additional benefit to our members. We are sensitive to the needs of the members who have clamored over the years for higher SSS benefits. However, we cannot afford to lose the pension fund in the future if no sustainable source of funding is identified to fund the additional benefit payments,” Dooc said.

At present, the contribution rate for maternity benefit still remains at 0.4 percent of the monthly salary credit of a qualified member or around P64 for every P1760 monthly contribution.

SSS has so far disbursed more than P3 billion worth of maternity benefits to over 157,000 qualified female members from January to June 2018. Maternity benefit disbursements jumped by 12 percent to P3.37 billion during the first half of 2018 from the P3.01 billion disbursements on the same six-month period last year.

Topics: Expanded Maternity Leave law , Partido ng Manggagawa , Trade Union Congress of the Philippines
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