SENATE APPROVES 100 DAYS MATERNITY LEAVE
The Senate approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to increase maternity leave for female employees in the public and private sectors to 100 days regardless of the mode of delivery.
Currently, our laws provide for 60 days of maternity leave for government employees and 60 to 78 days for employees in the private sector, depending on the mode of delivery.
Senator Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2982, said the current allowable maternity leave is less than the 98-day minimum requirement of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
According to Cayetano, the Philippines is lagging behind other countries in the Asean Region in terms of maternity leave duration. Vietnam for instance, she said, provides 120 to 180 days of maternity leave, depending on the working conditions and nature of the work. Singapore, on the other hand, provides 112 days of maternity leave. Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, and Thailand all provides a maternity leave period of 84 days, Cayetano said in her sponsorship speech.
She said SBN 2982, known as the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2015, aims to provide mothers with ample transition time to regain health and overall wellness as well as to assume their maternal roles before resuming full-time work.It would also give mothers sufficient financial support while on maternity leave,she added.
They can also avail of an additional maternity leave of 30 days, without pay, provided that the employee gives the head of the agency due notice, in writing, 45 days before the end of her ordinary maternity leave.
“The expansion of the maternity leave period shall not in any way diminish the existing maternity benefits granted by the employer. It shall not affect the female employee’s security of tenure”, Cayetano stressed.
According to the proposed leave, employees from the private sector availing of the maternity leave period and benefits must receive not less than two-thirds of their regular monthly wages.
“Employers from the private sector shall pay the salary differential between the actual cash benefits received from the SSS by the covered employees and their average weekly or regular wages, for the entire duration of the ordinary maternity leave,” the bill said.
Data from SSS show that for the years 2012 to 2014, the availment of the maternity leave is less than two percent of the total female population of SSS members.
Exempted from giving cash benefits are employers who are operating distressed establishments and retail/service establishments employing not more than 10 workers.
Also exempted are employers who pay their workers on commission, boundary or task basis and those engaged in the production, processing, or manufacturing of products and commodities including agro-processing, trading, and services whose total assets are not more than three million pesos.
“Through policies like this, we aim to institutionalize standards that promote the rights of working women and protect them from discrimination based on maternity,” Cayetano said.(Olive Caunan)./MP