Hontiveros says expanded maternity leave won’t lead to fewer jobs for women
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday said that the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) bill will result in a more productive workforce despite fears of fewer job opportunities for women.
Hontiveros said the EML would ensure that newborn babies are exclusively breastfed by their mothers — thus avoiding absences in the future because their children are healthier.
“Mas healthy ’yong mga bata, so less absences din ang mga nanay kapag nagkasakit si baby dahil mas malusog sa exclusive breastfeeding,” she said after a program at University of the Philippines.
If the EML bill is signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, mothers will be entitled to 105 days of paid maternity leave, seven days of which may be transferred to her husband, partner, or alternate caregiver. Single mothers will be given an additional 15 days or a total of 120 days.
The senator, who authored and sponsored the proposal, said that EML will benefit companies in the long run as employees are more loyal — things which were also observed in other southeast Asian countries.
“Pinabulaan ’yan ng ating mga women labor (groups), panahon pa lang ng hearing sa Senate, to document ang naging karanasan ng ibang [southeast Asian] countries who actually gave longer pa, expanded maternity leave than our 105 (days),” Hontiveros noted.
“At hindi sila nakaranas or gumawa ng discrimination sa employment, pinahalagahan nila na with expanded maternity leave days, bumabalik ‘yong mga employees and laborers nila na healthier,” she added.
Some groups feared that the EML would diminish the chances of women getting hired, as companies would opt to hire male employees.
However, Hontiveros clarified that there is a provision in the EML exempting some companies from giving 105 days of maternity leave.
“Dito sa ating 105 days expanded maternity leave law, in fact exempted ’yong mga distressed companies, ’yong mga micro-enterprises which according to Philippine Statistical Authority make up 89 percent ng mga establishments, at exempted din ang mga kumpanya with 10 employees or less,” she explained.
She also said that for the remaining 11 percent of companies which will adopt the EML, only 16 percent are receiving salaries higher than the minimum wage — which means that the rest of employees’ EML can be shouldered by the Social Security System.
“Even for those 11 percent lang na establishments na mako-cover sa ating 105 EML law, sinabi ng PSA at kinonfirm ng SSS na only 16 percent of Filipino women employed ay lampas sa minimum wage,” Hontiveros said.
“At kapag minimum wage ang sweldo, pasok na sa P16,000 ceiling ng SSS for women in the private sector na magma-maternity leave,” she added./ac