Expanded maternity leave law, a major victory for women: Hontiveros

MANILA Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday hailed the passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave Bill at the House of Representatives, saying the imminent passage of the proposed measure into law is "a historic victory for women."

Earlier in the day, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 4113, which seeks to increase the number of days of maternity leave to 100 with a vote of 191-0-0.

This is 20 days short of the Senate's version of the bill, which proposes 120 days of maternity leave, and an additional 30 days for solo working mothers.

The Senate version of the bill was approved in March last year.

Hontiveros, who championed the passage of the bill in the Senate, said that once enacted into law, the measure would make the Philippines more competitive with its Southeast Asian neighbors.

At the current 60-day maternity leave policy, the country lags behind Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia who are at 90 days each, Myanmar (98 days), as well as Laos and Brunei (105 days).

Singapore and Vietnam top the list with the best maternity leave policies in the region at 112 days and 180 days, respectively.

"After 26 years, we are finally able to upgrade this outdated policy. After 26 years, women have won this right in the workplace," Hontiveros said in a news release.

"This measure will make our labor practices at par with our ASEAN counterparts. An expanded maternity leave law will signal to the world our commitment to working women's rights and welfare," she added.

The chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality also noted that an extension of the paid maternity leave would improve the health of women, their newborn and their family.

"Enough rest will give new mothers time for recuperation and recovery from childbirth," she said.

"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 said.

The measure will now move to a bicameral conference committee that will consolidate both versions of the bill for signing of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I am now looking forward to working with our House counterparts to bring forward this progressive measure that will benefit Filipino families," Hontiveros said. (PR)

Source: Philippine News Agency