By: Maila Ager, INQINQUIRER.net, Mar 06, 2017
The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill that would raise the maternity leave period of female workers in the government and private sectors to 120 days or four months.
Twenty-two senators voted on Monday to approve Senate Bill No. 1305 known as the “Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017” with no objection or abstention.
Under the bill, all female workers regardless of civil status or legitimacy of her child should be granted 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend for another 30 days without pay. Solo parents, on the other hand, would be granted a total of 150 days maternity leave with pay.
It also provides that 30 days of the proposed 120 day maternity leave may be transferred to alternate caregivers such as the spouse, common-law partner, and relative up to the fourth degree of consanguinity, including adoptive parents.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said 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,” Pimentel said in a statement after the approval of the measure.
Also under the measure, fathers may also enjoy a 30 day-leave. At present, they are only granted seven days of paid leave as provided for under Republic Act 7322.
Once enacted into law, Senator Risa Hontiveros said 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 authored and cosponsored the bill as chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality. Other co-authors of the measure are Senators Sonny Angara, Francis Pangilinan, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Antonio Trillanes IV.
“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 when she sponsored the bill.
The bill, she said, would also bring the country closer to compliance with the International Labor Organization’s standards on maternity protection, a field where she said 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, noting that the ILO Convention 183 mandates a minimum of 98 days maternity leave. JE/rga
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