MANILA – To ensure the health of mothers and babies as well as promote child-rearing, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has proposed to increase the maternity leave by 150 percent from 60 days to 150 days.
“Bukod sa makakapagpahinga at makaka-recover nang husto ang mga bagong panganak, ang panukala natin ay masisiguro ring maaalagaan nang mas mabuti ang mga bagong silang (Aside from the mother being able to rest and recover fully from childbirth, this proposed measure will also ensure that the newborn will be well cared for),” Pangilinan said.
The bill amends Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997, which currently grants a 60-day (for normal childbirth) to 78-day (for cesarean) maternity leave for employees in the private sector.
“Ang kasalukuyang batas ay mas mababa sa international labor standard on maternal protection na nag-rerekomenda ng 14 na linggo o 98 na araw ng maternity leave (The current law is below the international labor standard on maternal protection that recommends 14 weeks or 98 days of maternity leave),” Pangilinan pointed out.
Various studies show the positive health impacts of paid parental leave on the health of children and mothers.
Citing the Public Health Reports from 2011, Pangilinan said an increase in the length of paid maternity leave can reduce infant mortality by as much as 10 percent.
Paid maternity leave also increases the likelihood of infants getting well-baby care visits and vaccinations, and the rate and duration of breastfeeding which is known to be very beneficial to the health of mothers, the report said.
Pangilinan’s proposed law also allows for an additional maternity leave of 30 days without pay, provided that the employer is informed in writing at least 45 days before the end of her original maternity leave.
CASH AND OTHER BENEFITS
Employees availing of the maternity leave period and benefits must receive not less than two-thirds of their regular monthly wages.
This cash benefit should allow her to maintain herself and her child or children (in case of multiple births) properly in health and in overall well-being, Pangilinan said.
The proposed law also prohibits employers from terminating the employment of a woman during absence on maternity leave. It also provides that women returning to work must be returned to the same or equivalent position paid at the same rate.
The expanded maternity leave proposal is among the first 10 bills filed by Pangilinan for the 17th Congress. Some of the others are the Sagip Saka bill, the Free Wi-Fi bill, and the measure creating the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.