MANILA, Philippines – With maternal and child health in mind, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan recently filed a bill that seeks to extend maternity leave in the country from 60 to 150 days.
An amendment to the Social Security Act of 1997, Pangilinan’s bill wants to lengthen maternity leave by 150%.
“The current law is below the international labor standard on maternal protection that recommends 14 weeks or 98 days of maternity leave,” he said in a statement on Saturday, July 23.
Pangilinan is citing an international labor standard included in the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000, but according to the International Labor Organization, the Philippines has not ratified the said convention.
The Philippines’ Social Security Law only grants mothers 60 days of leave for normal childbirth, and 78 days for caesarean delivery.
But citing Public Health Reports from 2011, Pangilinan said an increase in the length of paid maternity leave can reduce infant mortality by as much as 10%.
According to the same report, paid maternity leave increases the likelihood of a child getting well-baby visits and vaccinations. It also increases the rate and duration of breastfeeding.
“Aside from the mother being able to rest and recover fully from childbirth, this proposed measure will also ensure that the newborn will be well cared for,” the senator said.
Pangilinan’s bill – among the first 10 bills he filed for the 17th Congress – also allows for an additional 30-day maternity leave without pay, as long as the employer is informed in writing at least 45 days before the employee’s original maternity leave ends.
An employee on maternity leave must receive not less than two-thirds of her regular monthly wages – a cash benefit which, Pangilinan said, can help maintain the health and well-being of both mother and child.
The bill also prohibits employers from terminating the employment of a mother on maternity leave, and makes sure she is allowed to return to the same or equivalent position she left, and paid at the same rate.
A similar bill extending maternity leave, but to a shorter 100 days, made it as far as the Senate’s third and final reading during the 16th Congress. – Rappler.com
Pregnant woman image from Shutterstock