By Erma Edera
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has urged employers to give the newly enacted Expanded Maternity Leave Law (EML) a chance to effectively uphold the welfare of women workers and employees.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has allayed fears that EML will discourage the hiring of women employees, and limit their participation in productive work.
“We do not see this perceived fear as having any effect on the employment of women. Companies and enterprises hire workers based on their competencies and skills, and not on the basis of gender,” Bello said.
The labor chief said the law is a milestone legislation that will enable women to be economically active by helping them manage a healthy work-life balance, which translates to higher productivity at work.
Bello said the EML will also address the issue of low participation rate of women in the labor force, now ranging between 45 to 50 percent, attributable to their multiple role at home.
“The law will boost the employment participation of women as they are given longer time to rest and attend to their maternal obligations during childbirth period. It also addresses health issues among women as they are given ample time to recuperate after giving birth before reporting back to work,” he said.
President Duterte signed into law the Expanded Maternity Leave mea¬sure on Feb. 20.
Aside from DOLE, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Social Security System (SSS) were also mandated by the law to craft the IRR.
The new law provides 105 days of paid maternity leave to all working mothers and an additional 15 days to solo mothers.
Mothers will also have the option to extend for an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.
The maternity benefits will apply to every instance of pregnancy, miscar¬riage, or emergency termination of pregnancy regardless of frequency.
The law also includes a provision allow¬ing the allocation of seven maternity leave days to fathers, raising the paternity leave to 14 days from the current seven days.
Prior to the enactment of the law, women are allowed only 60 days of paid maternity leave.