By Charmaine A. Tadalan
THE HOUSE BILL increasing from 60 to 100 days the paid maternity leave was approved on third and final reading on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
With 191 affirmatives, zero negatives and no abstention, House Bill (HB) 4113, “The 100-day Maternity Leave Law,” is a step closer to enactment. Its counterpart bill, Senate Bill 1305, which grants a 120-day maternity leave, had earlier hurdled that chamber on third and final reading.
Under both measures, all covered female workers will also be granted an optional 30-day extension without pay, in addition to the initial maternity period.
Further, in the House version, women in government offices on maternity leave shall receive full pay based on their average weekly or regular wages. Meanwhile, women in the private sector will be paid a daily maternity benefit, based on the average monthly salary credit.
The benefits shall apply to all covered female workers, regardless of civil status and birth procedure. The bill, if enacted, will also include workers in the informal economy as well as female workers facing administrative cases.
The Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) welcomed the development and considered it as “a sweet victory for Filipino women workers.”
“The Expanded Maternity Leave measure is the country’s non-cash investment in producing a healthy, intelligent and well-developed future breed of Filipino workers without losing the wages and benefits of nursing moms during maternity period and without sacrificing their health and well-being,” ALU-TUCP Vice President and Women’s Committee head Eva B. Arcos said in a statement, Tuesday.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), for its part, said while it does not object to the proposed measure, it has reservations about its implementation.
“ECOP did not object to that, okay lang kasi (it’s okay because) it’s not so far from what the international standard ng ILO (Internal Labor Organization). But we reiterated dapat ang arrangement niyan pareho ng SSS na nagbabayad (ng) daily credit, ina-advance lang ng employer, nire-reimburse lang ng SSS,” ECOP honorary chair Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. told BusinessWorld in a phone interview. (But we reiterated that the arrangement should be the same as with the Social Security System, which reimburses the employer’s advance.)