Working women are most privileged in Philippines
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 21, 2019 - 12:00am

The new law expanding the maternity leave for women highlights the fact that the Philippines is the most pro-women among the ten ASEAN member nations in terms of care, compassion and protection for female workers. The new law expanded the maternity leave with pay from 60 days (for normal delivery) and 78 days (for delivery by caesarian section) to 105 days. For solo mothers, there is an addition of 15 days. Further, the 105 days carries with it an option that each woman may take, to extend the 105 days by another 30 days of leave provided that such additional leave of 30 days shall be without pay. I think she can charge this 30 day additional leave to her accumulated vacation leave or sick leave if allowed under the implementing rules that are still to be formulated jointly by the DOLE and the Civil Service Commission.


Working women also, if subjected to physical, emotional, psychological or even economic and financial violence, may claim another ten days of leave with pay. The problem is that this law on Anti-Violence against Women and Children does not say that the ten day leave can be availed only once a year. The silence of the law could only mean that each time a working woman or her child is subjected to any form of violence by her husband, lover or live-in partner, then the employer is duty-bound to give her ten days of paid leave. It is possible then that every month, or even oftener, a battered woman may claim such benefit and that would be a heavy burden on the part of the employer, who needs to hire a substitute worker every time the law is availed of. All that the woman worker has to present is a certificate signed by the barangay chairman, kagawad, the prosecutor or the clerk of court.

Added to all the above is the Magna Carta For Women Leave which is two months leave with full pay based on gross compensation for those who have underwent surgical operation called mastectomy, hysterectormy, or ovariectormy  or any other ob-gyne operation. All these leaves, maternity leave of 105 days plus 15 days for solo parents and 30 days without pay plus 10 days for anti-violence against women and children and the 60 days for ob-gyne means that the woman workers may not be rendering productive labor for a total of 225 days. If we add the 54 Sundays for the whole year and the 12 legal holidays and the 3 special days, and the 5 days service incentive leave, that would be a total of 288 days. If we deduct the 288 from the 365 days each year, that means that she may be working only for 77 days or just two months and 17 days for the whole year. And she will still be entitled to 13th month pay.

Under the Labor Code, it is illegal to discriminate against women but the laws themselves are discriminatory in their favor. They are entitled to long maternity leave even if they are not married. Men have to be legally married and have too short paternity leave. Also, it is illegal to terminate employment of female workers because of marriage or pregnancy even if they work as flight stewardesses or pilots. They are entitled to separate toilets and also lactation rooms where they can bring their babies to the work place and breastfeed them in a room specially provided for them.

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