Expanded maternity benefits have no impact on women employability

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Although the new provisions of the expanded maternity benefits are expected to impact hiring preferences, majority of employers said the new law and its provisions will not affect their decisions in hiring women, according to a survey conducted by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP).

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The ECOP conducted a survey following the enactment into law of Republic Act No. 11165, the "105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law.” The law seeks to get an idea on the perception of employers on the new provisions, and gauge the possible impact of the new law on enterprise and on the employability of women.

Survey results showed that while the expanded maternity benefits would impact on hiring preferences, 69 percent of the respondents won’t allow the new law and its provisions to affect their decision in hiring women.

The survey also showed that 59 respondents supported the law and 7 said that its passage will affect their decision in hiring women. However, out of the 38 who did not support the law 18 said that its passage will not affect their decision in hiring women.

For the respondents who were indifferent to the passage of the law, 9 said that it will affect their hiring decision while twelve 12 said that it will not.

The long maternity leave as disruptive to the operations and planning for the company topped as the major reason of the respondents who said that the new law will affect their hiring decision.

Employers also cited the cost implications caused by the expanded maternity benefit and the hiring and training of temporary replacements are high.

Those opposed also stressed that the company’s productivity will decline and be compromised due to the long absence of the employee. Another reason was the comparatively larger adversarial effect to female-dominated micro and small enterprises.

Meanwhile, the respondents who said that the new law will not affect their decision in hiring women said the company subscribes to equal employment opportunity principles and gender equality; the hiring practices in their company are merits-based; and women are generally more organized, more detail-oriented, and more reliable at work.

Employers were also asked to rank the possible cost impact from 1 to 5, with 1 being “very minimal,” and 5 “very substantial”. The average score is 3.7, with 4 being the most common answer at 31.

Half of the respondents mentioned that they were supportive of the proposed expansion of the maternity benefit before the law was passed. But after the passage of the law, a significant 34 percent of respondents felt indifferent as against the 32 percent who said they were happy with the new provisions of the law.

The survey was conducted from 11 March to 31 March 2019, with a total of one hundred and eighteen 118 respondents with 56 percent of the responses came from large-scale companies. This is followed by small-scale companies at 22 percent. In terms of industry distribution, the top three industries represented in the survey are manufacturing (22%), services (10%), and IT-BPM (9%).

Under the law, pregnant female workers may avail of the 105- days maternity leave with full pay if they members of the Social Security System and have paid at least 3 monthly contributions in the twelve 12 month period immediately preceding the semester of their childbirth, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy.

The new law also mandates an additional 15 days maternity leave with full pay for those who would qualify as solo parent under Republic Act 8972 or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act. "Solo parent" as defined by RA 8972.