PH has shortest maternity leave in ASEAN – labor groups
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines provides the shortest maternity leave in Southeast Asia and it's about time that this be changed, a coalition of women's organizations and labor groups said.
The existing law only grants 60 days of paid leave for women who just gave birth. This is just a third of the 180-day leave given by Vietnam, which tops other countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Days of maternity leave in other ASEAN countries are as follows:
- Singapore – 112
- Brunei – 105
- Laos – 105
- Myanmar – 98
- Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand – 90
- Malaysia – 60
As the Philippines hosts the ASEAN Summit next week, the coalition called on the House of Representatives to pass the bill that doubles the period of paid maternity leave to 120 days.
It has been 25 years since Republic Act No. 7322, which increased the maternity leave for private sector workers, was passed in May 1992.
"We urge the House of Representatives under the leadership of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to do its part and pass its version of the bill so we can make the promise of better maternal care a reality before the year ends," said the coalition in a statement.
The coalition includes Akbayan Women, IndustriALL, Nagkaisa-Women, Sentro Women, Alliance of Filipino Workers, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Makalaya, Building and Wood Workers International, Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Labor Union, and Sanofi Aventis Employees Union.
Last March, the Senate already passed Senate Bill 1305 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Act authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros. (READ: The challenges of maternal health in PH)
Aside from a 120-day paid maternity leave, the measure also provides:
- Additional 30 days for solo parents
- Option to extend for 30 days without pay, which can also be availed of by the mother's partner or relative up to the 4th level of consanguinity
"We encourage the shared care work – that taking care of a baby is not solely the responsibility of a mother," said Reyanne Librado of Akbayan Women.
Librado added that female workers in the informal sector would also be covered by the proposed measure, either via voluntary contribution to the Social Security System (SSS) or the universal PhilHealth coverage.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 183, which the Philippines committed to, prescribes a minimum of 98 days for maternity leave.
IndustriALL spokesperson Shirley Yorong also debunked the common notion that this policy would be costly for employers.
"An industrial company-level study [found] that only a few women get pregnant at the same time in one company. Increased maternity leave [then has no] economic impact," she said.
"It takes 9 months for a baby to be delivered. It's more than enough time for the company to transition," she added.
Yorong also said that allowing mothers to recover completely and properly take care of their newborn would make them more productive when they report back to work.
Prolonging the period of maternity leave, she added, would also be beneficial for the economy and the society in the long run because mothers would be present for the crucial period of development of their babies.
"The Philippines failed to fulfill Goal 5 of the Millennium Development Goals, [which is related to] maternal mortality.... Passage of the increased maternity leave bill can help us [boost] our commitment to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)," Yorong said. (READ: Less deaths, but world still misses MDG on maternal health) – Rappler.com