By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers sought the immediate enactment of the “long overdue” Expanded Maternity Leave Bill into law.
ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro cheered at the bicameral approval of the measure which seeks to increase the maternity leave period from 60 to 105 days for female workers in the government service and in the private sector.
“The approval of this bill has been long overdue. Motherhood and child-rearing are part of nation-building, therefore the government must prioritize the increase the days of maternity leave,” Tinio said in a statement.
He laments that the current maternity leave is “extremely inadequate” and considered among one of the shortest maternity leave in the whole world as per the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention.
“This measure further assures the security of tenure of female workers and emphasizes that maternity leave shall not be used as basis for demotion in employment or termination,” Tinio said.
Current laws allow a maternity leave of 60 days for government employees and 60 to 78 days for those in the private sector, depending on the mode of delivery.
Castro said the measure will stand to benefit women teachers. “Eighty percent of teachers are women. Providing an expanded maternity leave would allow teachers who are new mothers to cope and adjust better when they are set to return to their classes. With a short time for maternity leave for teachers, the health and welfare of the newborn and the nursing mother and the quality of education for their students may suffer,” she said.
“We call for the immediate passage of this bill into law. The expanded maternity leave has long been the clamor of women workers and employees,” Castro added.
The approved bicameral version provides for 105 days paid maternity leave credits for public and private sector workers of which seven days are transferrable to fathers. There is also an option to extend for an additional 30 unpaid days, under the bill.
An additional 15 days are likewise given to solo mothers, for a total of 120 days.
The bicameral version also covers every instance of pregnancy, removing the 4-pregnancy cap. It slaps a fine of at least P20,000 against employers for the non-conferment of the expanded maternity leave to employees, from the original minimum penalty of P5,000 in the Senate version.
“In the onslaught of the TRAIN Law, the approval of the 105-day Expanded Maternity Leave is the least the government can do for our women workers,” Castro said.
For his part, Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin called on President Duterte to immediately sign the measure after Congress ratifies it.