Press Release
March 6, 2017

Senate bats for increase in maternity leave from 60 days to 120 days

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant an additional 60 days of maternity leave to expectant mothers.

Senate Bill No. 1305, or the "Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017" was approved with 22 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and zero abstention.

The bill was authored and sponsored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.  The bill was also co-authored by Senators Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Francis Pangilinan, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao and Antonio Trillanes IV, with Angara, Legarda and Binay as the bill's co-sponsors.

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said that the bill was part of the Senate's efforts to protect and promote the welfare of pregnant women: "This bill is the Senate's way of providing greater assistance to Filipina women before, during and after their pregnancies." "By granting more time for a mother to be with her new-born child, we provide the optimal environment for neonatal and maternal health," Hontiveros said in her sponsorship speech.

Under the bill, all female workers regardless of civil status or legitimacy of her child shall be granted 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend for another 30 days without pay. Solo parents shall be granted a total of 150 days maternity leave with pay.

The measure also grants 30 days leave to fathers, who under Republic Act 7322, are granted only seven days of paid leave. Republic Act 7322 increases the maternity benefits in favor of women workers in the private sector, amending for the purpose section 14-a of Republic Act 1161, as amended, and for other purposes.

Under SBN 1305, 30 days of the proposed 120 day maternity leave are transferrable to alternate caregivers such as the spouse, common-law partner, and relative up to the fourth degree of consanguinity, including adoptive parents.

Hontiveros said that violators of the proposed law would be penalized with a fine not less than P5,000 nor not more than P20,000 and imprisonment for not less than six years and one day nor not more than 12 years or both.

Hontiveros said the measure would bring the country closer to compliance with the International Labor Organization's standards on maternity protection, a field where Philippine law is alarmingly inadequate.

"Our maternity leave law, both for the public and private sectors only provides 60 days paid leave--38 days short, more than five weeks short of the minimum prescribed under the International Labor Organization's Convention 183," Hontiveros said. The ILO Convention 183 mandates a minimum of 98 days maternity leave.

Studies show that the Philippines is among the few countries whose maternity leave policies remain as one of the shortest among the member countries of the ILO.

According to the ILO, Vietnam provides for 120 to 180 days of maternity leave. Singapore provides for 112 days maternity leave while Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand have an 84-day maternity leave period. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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