WOMEN rights advocates on Thursday urged the House of Representatives to pass legislation seeking an increase of the maternity paid leave period from 60 days to 120 days.
At a news conference in Quezon City, Reyanne Librado of Akbayan Women said with a vote of 22-0, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1305 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act of 2017, while the version of Congress is still pending.
She expressed disappointment over the failure of the lower chamber to act on the Expanded Maternity Leave bill, saying the Philippines has been left behind by the other Asian nations, such as the maternity paid leave of Singapore’s 112 days and Indonesia’s 90 days.
Under the measure, all female workers, regardless of civil status or legitimacy of her child, shall be granted 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay.
Single mothers shall also be granted a total of 150 days maternity leave with pay.
Under the existing law, an expectant mother is given only 60 days of paid leave.
“We called on the lawmakers in Congress to take up the issue of the expanded maternal leave. We will welcome any complaints to be raised since that would signal that our concern is being talked about,” Librado told the Manila Standard.
“The bill, if passed in Congress, would be the best Christmas gift for the Filipino people,” she said.
She said Convention 183 of the International Labor Organization is prescribing a minimum of 98 days of maternity leave.
Citing the statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros, she said the last increase for the number of the maternity paid leave was 25 years ago.
According to Librado, not only those from both the government and private sector of employment stand to benefit from the bill, if passed.
“Even those in the informal sector will benefit for as long as they are self-employed voluntary members of the Social Security System or Philippine Health Insurance Corp.,” she said.
Librado was joined by Nice Coronacion of Sentro ng Progresibong Manggagawang Pilipino, Judy Miranda of Nagkaisa-Women, Annie Geron of the Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Tess Borgonios of the Building and Wood Workers International, Rosey Calibo of the Sanofi Aventis Employees Union, Shirley Yorong of the IndustriALL Women’s Committee and female employees of the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Labor Union.
“It is gravely disheartening that even as the Philippines is the chair and host of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation [summit], our country has long fallen behind in the area of competent maternity care,” Yorong said. (RIO)