House approves bill granting 100-day paid maternity leave
MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – The bill seeking to grant a 100-day paid maternity leave to both government and private sector employees hurdled the House of Representatives.
Voting 191-0-0, lawmakers approved House Bill (HB) No. 4113 or the proposed 100-Day Maternity Leave Law on 3rd and final reading on Tuesday, September 4. It was approved on second reading just a week ago on August 28.
HB No. 4113 aims to extend the current 60-day leave by another 40 days and would also give female employees the option to extend their maternity leave by another 30 days without pay.
The extended paid maternity leave bill, however, will have to pass through the bicameral conference committee, composed by members of both the House and the Senate.
This is because the Senate version of HB 4113, approved on 3rd and final reading in March 2017, seeks a longer paid maternity leave of 120 days. And unlike the House bill which does not increase fathers' 7-day paid leave under Republic Act No. 7322, Senate Bill No. 1305 also seeks a 30-day paid leave for fathers.
Legislators have to reconcile conflicting provisions of the measure before President Rodrigo Duterte can sign it into law. (READ: Duterte backs longer maternity leave)
What are the provisions of the bill? HB 4113 grants the 100-day paid maternity leave to a pregnant female worker regardless of her civil status, legitimacy of her child, and whether she gave birth via caesarian section or natural delivery.
The maternity leave would also be granted to female employees in every instance of pregnancy, miscarriage, or abortion, regardless of its frequency.
The maternity leave also cannot be deferred, but it should be availed of by the woman either before or after the actual period of "delivery in a continuous and uninterrupted manner."
Section 13 of HB 4113 guarantees security of tenure of the mother who would avail of the maternity leave, and bars her company or government agency from demoting or firing her for taking her maternity leave.
What are the other benefits? A mother would also have these benefits under HB 4113:
- A female member of the Social Security System (SSS) who has paid at least 3 monthly contributions in the 12-month period immediately preceding the semester of her childbirth or miscarriage shall be paid her daily maternity benefit. This would be computed based on the average monthly salary credit for 100 days.
- Female workers in the private sector under maternity leave must receive not less than two-thirds of their regular monthly wages.
- Employers of female workers in the private sector must be responsible for the salary differential between the actual cash benefits received from SSS and their average weekly or regular wages, for the entire duration of the maternity leave.
- HB 4113, if passed into law, should not diminish the existing maternity benefits granted by the employer with or without collective bargaining agreements or under present laws, "if more beneficial to the female employee."
What are advocates saying? Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas hailed the passage of extended paid maternity leave.
"This is historic as this is the first time that the expanded maternity leave bill hurdles all the stages at the House of Representatives since we first filed the measure 10 years ago. We congratulate various women's groups and partners of Gabriela Women's Party for tirelessly pushing the Lower House to act on the 100-day maternity leave bill," said Brosas.
"Pagkilala ito sa produktibong papel ng kababaihan sa ekonomiya at pagtataguyod ng kanilang karapatan sa maternal health na laman ng Konstitusyon (This is a recognition of the productive role that women play in the economy and their right to maternal health stipulated in the Constitution)," she added.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin also called HB 4113's approval a "victory for women workers."
"Naniniwala ang Akbayan na hatid nito hindi lang ang mga benepisyong pangkalusugan para sa mga manggagawang buntis, kundi maging ang proteksyon sa kanilang kapakanan at karapatan bilang manggagawang kababaihan," he said.
(Akbayan believes this would bring not only health benefits for pregnant workers, but it would also protect their rights as female employees.)
Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality, congratulated her counterparts in the House who pushed for the bill.
"Enough rest will give new mothers time for recuperation and recovery from childbirth. It will also improve on families' overall well-being, with newborn infants being properly taken care of," Hontiveros said.
"A healthy working population means less sick leaves and more productivity," she added.
The Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), a group composed of lawmakers from the Senate and the House, said "this victory has opened new doors for advancing not only women's rights but also children's rights and welfare."
"But a few more crucial steps are needed to ensure that the expanded maternity leave bill will be a law. The [PLCPD] urges both houses of Congress to fast-track the convening of the bicameral conference committee and ratify the final version of the bill," the group said.
"We are confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will hold on to his commitment to support the expanded maternity leave and that he will immediately sign the bill into law."
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) also hailed the bill's approval as a "sweet victory for Filipino women workers who have lobbied and belabored for the mandatory welfare for more than a decade."
ALU-TUCP vice president and women's committee head Eva Arcos said the measure is "the country's non-cash investment in producing a healthy, intelligent, and well-developed future breed of Filipino workers." – Rappler.com
Pregnant woman image from Shutterstock