Women workers laud progress of expanded maternity leave House bill

Twenty-seven-year-old Mary Ann Mancilla Raya of Sta. Isabel, Kawit, Cavite kisses her New Year baby girl named Kashmir, who was born at exactly 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2016 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz Manila. The child weighed 3135 grams at birth. AVITO DALAN/PNA/

QUEZON CITY — An advocacy group for women workers has applauded the approval on second reading at the House of Representatives on Tuesday of a measure expanding the paid maternity leave of working women in the country to 100 days.

House Bill No. 4113, sponsored by Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and co-authored by Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin, seeks to add 40 days to the current 60 days of paid maternity leave for female workers in the government and the private sector.

Work4EML — convened by workers and women from Partido ng Manggagawa, NAGKAISA, Akbayan Women, IndustriALL, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) Philippines, Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) Philippines and Associated Labor Unions (ALU), Manggagawang Kababaihan Mithi ay Paglaya (MAKALAYA) — welcomed Congress’ move as a positive development in ensuring the welfare of women workers in the country.

Judy Miranda of Partido ng Manggagawa said the bill takes into consideration the health of women working in the public and private sector.

“Women who just gave birth need time to heal and to take care of their newborn,” she said. “This measure, once passed into law, will provide full recovery from childbirth for working women and improve overall health of Filipino families.”

Reyanne Librado of Akbayan Women said the passage of HB 4113 will place the country at par with its Southeast Asian neighbors.

“Sa buong Southeast Asia, tayo ang pinaka-kulelat sa maternity leave policy,” Librado said.

The country currently has the shortest paid maternity leave policy in the region, ranking below Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand that have 90 days each.

“Kapag naisabatas ito, magiging mas aangkop tayo sa international standard na at least 98 days ng International Labor Organization at World Health Organization ng maternity leave policy kumpara sa ibang bansa,” Librado added.

Eva Arcos of IndustriALL Philippines said the passage of a “just” maternity leave law for women workers is long overdue.

“The Philippines is lauded to have an enabling legal environment for women. An expanded maternity leave law signals the creation of further maternity protection to Pinay moms,” she said.

After three session days, the House bill will be approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives and will move to a bicameral conference committee to consolidate it with the Senate’s counterpart bill for approval into a law.

The Senate’s counterpart bill, sponsored by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, was approved in March 2017. (PR)

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