Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday tried to allay fears that an expanded maternity leave law would be harmful to businesses that could not afford to give their women workers additional paid maternity leave days.
Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, said that many international studies showed that paid parental leaves have no significant negative effects on small-scale businesses.
Citing a 2007 experience of American technology company Google, she said that it was able to reduce its female turnover rate by 50 percent by increasing its paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks.
She said that among its advantages was that it contributes to addressing unemployment and increasing workers’ benefits and improves employee retention and decreases the turnover rate.
Moreover, it also increases productivity and allows businesses of all sizes to save money on costly employee replacement costs such as the training of new recruits.
“Ultimately, it is beneficial to the economy,” Hontiveros said.
The neophyte senator pointed out that many other companies in different parts of the world have adopted better maternity leave policies.
She noted that reports showed that the Philippines is lagging behind other countries in Asia in terms of maternity leave duration.
However, with the passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave law of 2017 in third and final reading under her leadership, she is confident that the policy would be a “real win-win solution” for both workers and employers.
“We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from a progressive maternity leave policy. I am confident that small and medium enterprises can prosper with a fully implemented expanded maternity leave policy because in the end, it’s all about the basic needs of our working people, particularly our women,” Hontiveros said.
She, meanwhile, expressed hope that the measure’s counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, which is still waiting approval from its members, will be passed soon.
Hontiveros’ law seeks to double the number of paid maternity leave days of women to 120 days with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay. The 30 days can also be allotted to fathers and alternate caregivers.