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Expecting a child? Attorney Jasmin Fiel-Samson looks at maternity leave entitlements

The Law Firm of Mallari Fiel Brillante Ronquillo

They say that it takes an entire village to raise a child. As a first time mom, now more than ever I begin to understand the truth behind this saying. It is recognized in almost all parts of the world that parents need time to bond with and raise a child. Currently, here in the Philippines, after giving birth mothers are given maternity leave of 60 or 78 days depending on whether the birth was a vaginal delivery, or through a C-section. The said leave is with pay. It must be noted though that our country has the lowest number of paid maternity leave days in Southeast Asia, well below the 98-day recommendation of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Vietnam offers 180 days, while Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia offer 90 days of maternity leave. On the other hand, the father of the newborn child here in the Philippines is given paternity leave to bond and take care of his newborn child along with his wife. Said paternity leave is also with pay but lasts for seven days only. Bonding with the new-born child, especially during these first few months, is of paramount importance to both parents. Hopefully, the House of Representatives will finally approve and pass the counterpart bill of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1305 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act. It has been a year since SB 1305 was passed in the Senate. Then it will still have to undergo a bicameral committee hearing before a final proposal is submitted for the Philippine president’s signature. The Expanded Maternity Leave Act has the following salient features:
  • All female workers, regardless of civil status or ‘legitimacy’ of their child, shall be granted 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay.
  • If the mother qualifies as a solo parent under R.A. 8972 she shall be granted a total of 150 days maternity leave with pay.
  • Fathers would also benefit from the measure if passed into law, as it seeks to grant them 30 days of leave – more than the allowed 7 days of paid leave under Republic Act 7322.
  • Under the bill, 30 of the 120 days can be transferred to alternate caregivers, such as the spouse, common-law partner, and relative up to the 4th degree of consanguinity, including adoptive parents.
  • The full payment shall be advanced by the employer within 30 days from the filing of the maternity leave application.
  • Workers availing themselves of the maternity leave and benefits must receive not less than 2/3 of their regular monthly wages.
  • Employers from the private sector shall be responsible for payment of the salary differential between the actual cash benefits received from the Social Security System (SSS) by the covered female workers and their average weekly or regular wages, for the entire duration of the ordinary maternity leave, with some exceptions.
  • Employees who avail themselves of this benefit shall be assured of security of tenure. This cannot be used as basis for demotion in employment or termination. The transfer to a parallel position or reassignment from one organizational unit to another in the same agency shall be allowed, provided it shall not involve a reduction in rank, status, or salary.
We can only remain hopeful that said law will be passed soon for it is a start. But in future let’s hope our lawmakers take their inspiration from countries such as Sweden which grant awesome benefits to both rearing parents.

The Law Firm of Mallari Fiel Brillante Ronquillo

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