WORKING mothers will have more time to nurse and care for their babies and recuperate from child birth once a measure seeking to expand the maternity leave period is passed.
Senate Bill 1276 or the “Expanded Maternity Leave Act” was recently filed by Sen. Sonny Angara. If enacted into law, female workers will have 98 days maternity leave instead of the current 60 days.
Angara said the main purpose of the bill is to provide mothers extra time to care for their babies and recover.
“This measure, in enhancing the welfare of mothers, ultimately improves the well-being of all Filipinos,” Angara said.
Under the proposed law, all covered female workers in government and private sector including those in the informal sector, regardless of civil status or the legitimacy of her child, shall be granted 98 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend for an additional 30 days without pay.
The law also provides security of tenure for those who will avail themselves of the ordinary maternity leave and the additional 30-day maternity leave, whether in the government service or private sector.
Employers can’t use the maternity leave as basis for demotion in employment or termination although transfer to a parallel position or reassignment from one organizational unit to another in the same agency shall be allowed so long as it will not involve a reduction in rank, status or salary.
Currently, the Philippines provides a compensable period of 60 to 78 days for maternity leave depending on the method of delivery.
Angara noted that the current leave policy clearly falls short of the international standard set at no less than 14 weeks or 98 days under the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 183.
He added that in the ASEAN region, the average length of maternity leave is at 93 days.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2013 reported that Filipino mothers have a measly breastfeeding rate of 34 percent for infants younger than six months, which failed to meet the 50 percent target of the 2012 World Health Assembly.
This may be one of the reasons why in 2013, 3.3 million or 30 percent of Filipino children aged five years old and younger were found to be stunted.
”Some argue that our short maternity leave period exacerbates this problem,” Angara said.
SB 1276 is the third bill that seeks the expansion of maternity leave. Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros also filed their respective proposals pushing for a longer leave period of 120 days.