THE Social Security System (SSS) issued guidelines on the payment of the expanded maternity benefits following the singing of a law in February, setting the eligibility date at March 11 for those making claims for child deliveries, miscarriages, and emergency terminations.
In circular 2019-009, the state pension fund said on its website that Republic Act (RA) No. 11210 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law (EMLL) authorizes the new benefits, along with Section 14-A on Maternity Leave Benefits of RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018.
According to the circular, the maternity benefit program under RA 11199 covers all female workers in the private sector, including employees, the self-employed (SE), Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and voluntary members (VMs).
The circular requires employers to fully pay maternity benefits in advance, within 30 days from the filing of the maternity leave application.
SSS will reimburse the employer in full for advances upon receipt of satisfactory proof of payment.
In case the eligible member is unemployed, temporarily laid off or whose company is in lockout or undergoing a strike, the pension fund will pay the female member directly. SSS is also obliged to pay directly all eligible SEs, OFWs and VMs.
Maternity leave can be credited as combinations of prenatal and postnatal leave, as long as it does not exceed the maximum amount of days allowed.
“In no case shall postnatal care be less than sixty (60) days,” SSS said.
Employers are to cover the salary differential, or the difference between the full salary and the actual fund benefits received from SSS.
However, establishments that are distressed, have a headcount of less than 10, classified as micro enterprises with assets not exceeding P3 million, or those that are already providing similar or more than the provided benefits under an existing collective bargaining agreement or company policy, are exempt from paying the salary differential.
These exemptions are subject to approval of the Department of Labor and Employment.
The EMLL was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in February, increasing paid maternity leave to 105 days from the previous 60 days, with an additional 15 days for solo mothers.
Qualified members suffering miscarriages or terminations of pregnancy are entitled to 60 days of paid leave.
Under the new law, qualified members will receive P70,000 worth of maternity benefits regardless of the means of the child’s delivery, from the previous P32,000 for normal delivery, based on the P20,000 monthly salary credit.
In March, SSS said its fund life was depleted by a year to 2044 due to the net impact of expanded maternity benefits, and proposed a new round of hikes in member contribution rates to fund its increased commitments. — Karl Angelo N. Vidal