Championing Working Mothers The Expanded Maternity Benefit Law

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Gender and Development
An International Labor Organization’s (ILO) report shows that the Philippines is among the few countries whose maternity leave policies remain one of the shortest among its members, especially in the region.

In fact, its 60-day maternity leave does not come close to Indonesia’s 90 days and Myanmar’s 98 days, which adheres to ILO’s recommendation. Other Asian countries already implement longer maternity leaves like Laos, with 105 days, Singapore with 112 days, and Vietnam with 120 to 180 days.

But this year marked a victory for expectant working mothers. The recent passage of the Republic Act No. 11210 otherwise known as the “105-day Expanded Maternity Leave Law,” was dubbed as a sweet victory for working women and their families, what with its extended benefits and fruitful outcomes.

Extended maternity leave

This momentous step now brings the country closer to the international standards on maternity protection.

This law now grants all covered female workers in the government and the private sector, including the informal economy, 105 days of fully paid leave.
Previously, female workers could take maternity leaves for 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian operations. The maternity leave is extendible by another 30 days but without pay.

For a female worker solo parent, as defined in the Solo Parent Act (R.A. No. 8972), she can have an additional 15 days of fully paid leave.

Female workers who suffered a miscarriage or had to undergo an emergency termination of the pregnancy are allowed to have a 60-day maternity leave.

The leave benefits also grant fathers with longer leaves. The mother can transfer 7 days of her leave benefits to the father, extending the latter’s paid paternity leave to 14 days.

In the death, absence or incapacity of the father, the mother can choose to allocate up to 7 days of her maternity leave benefits to a relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or the current partner of the mother, as long as they are living under the same roof.

Women workers

While many welcome the passage of the new law, issues were raised on its possible effect on women employment.

In a study made by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), results reveal that 68 percent of 70 surveyed members believe that hiring women may deem higher expenses for a company.

While many slam the survey’s results which may affect employer’s recruitment preferences, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III thinks otherwise.
Sec. Bello believes that this law paves the way for a healthier workplace and thus, resulting to higher productivity at work.

“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 says in a statement.

Participation rate of women in the labor force can increase too, he adds.

Sec. Bello reminds that the law expressly prohibits the act of discriminating against the hiring of women and protects their security of tenure by ensuring that there is no diminution of their benefits even by reason of their having gone on maternity leave.

Employers who fail or refuse to comply with the provision of the law may be subject to a fine of not less than PhP 20,000.00 but not more than PhP 200,000.00, and imprisonment of not less than 6 months and 1 day but not more than 12 years.

The law also states that if the employer is an association, partnership, corporation or any other organization, its managing head, directors or partners shall be held liable.


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