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Don’t look at new maternity law as a burden, Ecop urged

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday told employers they should not see the recently signed expanded maternity leave (EML) law as a burden to their operations but as a way to help increase women’s productivity.

Bello said the 105-day paid maternity leave provided under the law allowed women to achieve a “healthy work-life balance,” resulting in higher productivity at work.

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The law will also help improve the low labor participation rate of women, which is at 50 percent, he said.

“The law will boost the employment participation of women as they are given longer time to rest and attend to their maternal obligations during [the] childbirth period. It also addresses health issues among women as they are given ample time to recuperate after giving birth before reporting back to work,” Bello said.

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Signed by President Duterte in February, Republic Act No. 11210, or the EML law, increases the paid maternity leave from 60 to 105 days.

It also grants an optional 30 days of unpaid leave.

Ecop survey

Earlier, labor groups slammed the results of an initial study made by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) that showed 68 percent of 70 surveyed Ecop members believed that their hiring of women would be affected due to the cost of implementing the new law.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said that the “antiwomen attitude” of some employers had “no place in a modern and modernizing economy.”

Bello said the government did not see the EML law as inimical to women’s employment.

“We do not see this perceived fear as having any effect on the employment of women. Companies and enterprises hire workers based on their competencies and skills and not on the basis of gender,” he said.

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The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) said it was encouraged by the fact that many Ecop members did not see the EML as a burden to their operations.

In the same study, 34 companies said the new law would not affect their decision to hire women.

“Women continue to be seen as good employees [because] they are more organized, detail-oriented and generally more reliable. By virtue of their mothering role, they should be given enough time to recuperate after giving birth,” Josua Mata, Sentro’s secretary general, said.

“We cannot afford to deny their children the personal care they need from their mothers in the first few and most vulnerable, months of their lives,” Mata added.

But the Social Security System (SSS) said the expanded maternity leave would cut the agency’s shelf life by one year to 2044 despite a new law raising contribution rates, according to the agency’s officials.

Cost to SSS annually

At a press conference on Monday, SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the agency was bound by law to shoulder the additional paid maternity leave of mothers.

This would cost the SSS an additional P7.5 billion annually, despite a provision in the law gradually raising members’ monthly contributions to 15 percent, from the current 11 percent.

Beginning in April this year, SSS would raise its contribution rate every other year by 1.5 to 1.6 percentage points, which would give the SSS an additional P31 billion in collections.

Edgar Cruz, senior vice president for actuarial and risk management of the SSS, said that with the P1,000 additional benefit for pensioners and the extra maternity leave benefits, the increase in contribution rate was still not enough to offset the agency’s costs.

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TAGS: Ecop, expanded maternity leave, Silvestre Bello III
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