The House Committee on Women and Gender Equality has just approved the bill stretching the maternity leave to 100 days.
Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, representative of the Democratic Independent Workers’ Association (DIWA) Party List, said that the issue is not only about the women’s rights as workers but also about nutrition.
“Most of the time, women stop breastfeeding due to the problem of having to return to work,” the representative said. “The reason why our malnutrition rate is very high in the Philippines is because a lot of babies do not meet that requirement of being breastfed for two months.”
Before this new bill was passed, Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997 states that new mothers are only allowed to have a 60-day leave for normal childbirth and a 78-day leave for a cesarean section. This, however, is much lower compared to the standard set recommended by the International Labor Organization (ILO) – which should be at least 98 days.
With the implementation of this bill, new mothers will be able to spend more time in their recovery and attending to their babies. Those working in government sectors can look forward to receiving a fully paid leave while those employed by private companies will be granted an average of their monthly salary credit. It likewise allows an unpaid 30-day extension should it be necessary.
The bill covers contractual workers based on the rules of Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and adoptive parents, as per the Domestic Adoption Act.
Villar is hoping that the bill will pass once it gets to the Senate.
“The ILO already laid down its requirement of 98 days, and this is already a subject of long study in terms of promoting health of workers,” the representative emphasized. “So as much as the government would like to retain [status quo], I think that the policy should be taking care of our workers more and abiding [by the standard].”
Villar is also an advocate of extending the paternity leave to up to 30 days.