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Bicam approves 105 days paid maternity leave

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Bicam approves 105 days paid maternity leave
“This is a very positive start of our #PinkOctober campaign that seeks to highlight women’s health,” Rep. Emmi de Jesus of the women’s party-list group Gabriela as she welcomed the measure’s approval.
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MANILA, Philippines — Senators and congressmen comprising Congress’ bicameral conference committee approved yesterday the Expanded Maternity Leave bill by adding five more days to the proposed 100-day leave.

“This is a very positive start of our #PinkOctober campaign that seeks to highlight women’s health,” Rep. Emmi de Jesus of the women’s party-list group Gabriela as she welcomed the measure’s approval.

“This is proof of women’s resounding call for lawmakers to increase the current 60-day maternity leave period for normal delivery, which is way below the international minimum standard of 98 days,” she added.

The approved bicameral version provides for 105 days paid maternity leave for public and private sector workers, with an option to extend for an additional 30 unpaid days; additional 15 maternity leave days for solo parents and covers every instance of pregnancy.

“At a time when women workers are increasingly crushed by the pressure of making ends meet amid rising prices, a longer paid maternity period is one of the few positive things that the government can enact,” De Jesus said.

Such approval, according to her, is testament to government’s recognition of every woman’s productive contribution to the economy and to the country as a whole.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, one of the co-authors of House Bill 4113, commended his colleagues, along with Sens. Nancy Binay and Risa Hontiveros, for reconciling and harmonizing the provisions of Expanded Maternity Leave Bill.

“The dedication, enthusiasm and insights of the bicam members are truly inspiring. The main purpose of the measure is to allow every mother to have more time to take care of her newly born child and herself,” he said.

“Records show that around 11 Filipino mothers die every day or an estimated 4,500 every year due to severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and problems related to obstructed labor and abortion,” Vargas pointed out.

De Jesus likewise called on the leadership of the Social Security System (SSS) to cover the additional maternity benefits for female employees in the private sector without increasing their contributions by an estimated 0.3 or 0.4 percent.

“The SSS should not use the expanded maternity leave as justification for a contribution that will further cut the take-home pay of our workers,” the militant lawmaker said. 

“The state pension fund should address its inefficient collection, failed investments and foregone revenues from loans instead of depriving mothers of longer maternity leave period,” De Jesus added.

At the same time, Gabriela lauded the improved provision in the bicameral version on penalties of at least P20,000 for the non-conferment of the expanded maternity leave to employees, from the original minimum penalty of P5,000 in the Senate version.

Gabriela and the Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan, among others, distributed pink roses early morning yesterday to members of the bicameral conference committee to signify the push for #PinkOctober and the expanded maternity leave.

Labor coalition Nagkaisa yesterday lauded the approval of the 105-day expanded maternity leave for female workers in government and the private sector by the bicameral conference panel.

According to Nagkaisa chairman Sonny Matula, the approval is a manifestation “of a society that cares” for women.

“Welcome the measure of both chambers – Senate Bill No. 1305 and House Bill No. 4113 – as it also recognizes that taking care of a child is not the sole responsibility of the mother,” he said.

The proposed consolidated version of legislation grants seven days out of the 105 days maternity leave transferrable to fathers, while an additional 15 days can be availed of by solo mothers.

Matula added the bill is laudable because it almost doubled the existing benefit under the SSS, in accordance with standards of the International Labor Organization. – With Sheila Crisostomo

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EMMI DE JESUS

EXPANDED MATERNITY LEAVE BILL

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