What You Need to Know About the Expanded Maternity Leave Act of 2017

Mothers know that 60 days is just not enough to recover from the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. And yet, the current law only allows 60 days of paid leave for mothers and only seven days of paid leave for fathers.

The Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017 or Senate Bill 1305, which was authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, hopes to make a difference in the lives of Filipino parents by giving them more time to care for their newborns. Senate Bill 1305 was approved on third and final reading at the Senate on March 6, 2017. It seeks to grant 120 days of maternity leave to expectant mothers.

Here’s what you need to know about the Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017:

* All women workers, regardless of civil status or legitimacy of her child, shall be granted 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay. This would make the Philippines compliant with the International Labor Organization’s standards on maternity protection, which mandates a minimum of 98 days maternity leave.

* Single mothers shall be granted a total of 150 days maternity leave with pay.

* Fathers shall be granted 30 days of paternity leave.

* Of the 120 days maternity leave, 30 may be transferred to other caregivers. These include the spouse, common-law partner, and relative up to the fourth degree of consanguinity.

* The employer shall advance full payment of the leave within 30 days from the filing of the maternity leave application.

* Women who avail of the maternity leave and benefits must receive not less than 2/3 of their regular monthly wages.

* Women who avail of this benefit shall be assured of security of tenure. It cannot be used as basis for demotion in employment or termination.

* The counterpart measure in the House is pending second reading approval. The 100-day Maternity Leave Law or House Bill 4113 seeks to grant 100 days of paid leave to women workers regardless of civil status, miscarriage, abortion, and pending administrative cases. It includes an option for female employees in the government or private sector to seek an additional 30-day leave without pay.

House Bill 4113 needs to be approved by Congress first before it is presented to the bicameral committee along with Senate Bill 1305. It is the consolidated bill which would then be forwarded to President Rodrigo Duterte for approval before it becomes a law.

It may be worthwhile to note, however, that a similar measure, which sought to grant 100 days of maternity leave, was approved in the 16th Congress. It was not enacted.

* When it comes to parental leave policies, Southeast Asian countries lag behind other nations worldwide. The Philippines and Malaysia are bottom-dwellers offering only eight weeks. The average across the region is 12 to 13 weeks, with Mongolia and Vietnam offering up to 17 weeks paid leave.

* Nordic countries offer some of the best parental leave policies in the world. In Finland, expectant moms can start their maternity leave seven weeks before their due date. They are entitled to 16 additional weeks of paid leave through a maternity grant. Dads get eight weeks of paid paternity leave. Moms in Denmark get a total of 18 weeks of maternity leave, four weeks before the birth and 14 weeks after. Dad can take two weeks off during the 14-week period. Mom and dad can then split 32 additional weeks of leave. Moms get 18 weeks of maternity leave in Sweden, too, with parents getting 480 days of leave.

Following your many inquiries, we reached out to Senator Risa Hontiveros, the author of the bill. Kindly click on the link for an update.

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