Lawmakers and labor groups on Monday pushed for the passage of House Bill 4113 that seeks to expand maternity leave from 60 days to 100 days.
Reps. Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela party-list, Bernadette Herrera Dy of Bagong Henerasyon party-list, Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Tom Villarin of Akbayan party-list joined the Public Service Labor Independent Confederation and Partido Manggagawa in calling for the approval of the measure that has been pending in plenary since December 2016.
The expanded maternity leave covers all female workers in government and the private sector regardless of civil status. Under the bill, maternity leave can be availed of before or after delivery in an uninterrupted manner.
De Jesus said at least five million women will benefit from the bill.
“The maternity role of women is distinct, and the government should recognize such distinction that women have maternity health needs. This is not about discouraging employers from hiring women, but asserting women’s rights,” de Jesus said in a news conference.
Under the existing law, the paid maternity leave for normal delivery is 60 days and 78 days for those who delivered via caesarean section.
“It has long been established by studies that breastfeeding babies, at least until six months, is very crucial and very effective in keeping the child healthy. We need this bill passed because otherwise, not all working mothers have enough time to breastfeed their child,” Jessica de Ocampo, a factory worker of Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corporation, said.
“Since the existing law does not provide enough time for the mothers to breastfeed their babies, others are forced to breastfeed intermittently or stop breastfeeding altogether,” de Ocampo added.
The Senate approved its own version of the bill last week, giving mothers 120 days of maternity leave.
“The approval of the Senate counterpart bill last week underscores the need for the Lower House to finally take up and finish the deliberation on the 100-day maternity leave. It would be a way to honor and recognize women’s productive role in society at a time when we celebrate women’s contributions observance of the Women’s Month,” de Jesus said.
The expanded maternity leave bill provides that an employee’s use of the 100-day maternity leave cannot be used as basis for demotion or termination. The transfer to a parallel position or reassignment from one unit to another in the same agency will be allowed provided that it will not involve a reduction in rank, status or salary.
“This bill is not about sidelining women, but making them more productive in the long run. Women with children will be more motivated to go to work knowing that they have a child to raise,” Dy said.
“The bill only provides women workers an option for longer maternity leave. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they will use all of it so this should not be a basis to discriminate women in the workplace,” de Jesus said.