Oct 2, 2018

Expecting mothers will soon be entitled to a 105-day paid maternity leave following the approval of the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill by the Congress’ bicameral conference committee. The bill pushes for the expansion of the current 60-day paid maternity leave as it is considered way below the international minimum standard for normal delivery which is 98 days.

The bill, which combines the provisions of Senate Bill 1305 and House Bill 4113, aims to highlight the importance of women’s health and address the extreme risks pregnant women are exposed to. The Central Intelligence Agency found in 2015 that of 100,000 live births in the Philippines, 114 mothers die. Although this is lower than the 11 childbirth-related deaths recorded each day by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines in 2009, the maternal mortality rate in this country is still alarming.

In a research by the UNICEF, few of the many health risks Filipino pregnant mothers face are severe hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, and sepsis. Stress before and after childbirth can also be a factor, as most mothers force themselves to work a few weeks after birth in accordance with the current law.

With 60 days of maternal leave given for normal delivery and 78 for caesarian, the Philippines is unmistakably lagging behind its counterparts within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia all offer a 90-day maternity leave while Laos and Brunei give 105 days. Vietnam tops the list with 180 days. “Tayo ngayon ang may pinaka-kulelat na maternity leave policy sa buong ASEAN,” said Risa Hontiveros, co-author of the Senate bill.

So to “give new mothers time for recuperation and recovery from childbirth” while making our health policies at par with international standards, members of the Congress pushed for the 105-day leave and added an option to extend for an additional of 30 unpaid days. Solo moms, on the other hand, are given an additional of 15 maternity leave days.

Seven days out of the proposed 105-day maternity leave could be apportioned to paternal leave, in addition to the current seven-day paid leave for fathers.

“It will also improve on families’ overall well-being, with newborn infants being properly taken care of, with enough skin-to-skin contact with their mother,” Hontiveros added in a statement.

Aside from the health benefits, this bill gives further security to the tenure of female workers. According to the House bill, even if the mother availed the 105-day leave along with the additional 30 days, the leave should “not be used as a basis for demotion in employment or termination.”

 

Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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