ECOP rejects menstrual leave: ‘Let’s not overdo it’ | Inquirer News

ECOP rejects menstrual leave: ‘Let’s not overdo it’

Sergio Luis-Ortiz Jr. STORY: ECOP rejects menstrual leave: ‘Let’s not overdo it’

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. (Photo from the Facebook page of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines)

MANILA, Philippines — The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) is opposed to a House bill granting a two-day paid menstrual leave every month for women working in public and private offices, saying such a move would be counterproductive for both business owners and female employees.

In an Inquirer interview on Wednesday, ECOP President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the proposed menstrual leave in House Bill No. 7758 filed by Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas would be equivalent to almost a month of leave credits, an additional expense that micro and small businesses would find hard to shoulder.


“Let’s not overdo it. That’s equivalent to 24 days a year. That’s an additional one month of bonus if converted,” Ortiz-Luis said, stressing that micro enterprises comprise 90 percent of businesses while small-scale ventures account for 8 percent.

“Big business can likely handle the added cost. But businesses of that size are very few in number,” he said.


The ECOP official added that a substantial number of employees avoid using their wellness leaves, or those comparable to the proposed menstrual leaves so that these could be converted to cash at the end of each year.

If approved, the proposed legislation could also negatively impact the hiring preference for women or make them more likely to be let go should there be a need to reduce the workforce during hard times.

“We can already see it happening. It’s like you’re positioning women to be the first ones to go during a layoff,” Ortiz-Luis said.

Sought for comment, Brosas noted that ECOP “never fails to counter proworker measures in the name of maintaining super profits for big businesses.”

According to her, sick leaves are “far different” from the proposed menstrual leave, noting that sick leaves are “normally only five days per year.”

“Female workers are facing low pay and inadequate benefits, and the menstrual leave will surely be a relief for them,” she said.

Brosas added that one’s sex or gender preference should not be used as a reason not to hire women, or to deprive employees of reproductive health benefits.


“In fact, the existence of such gender inequalities should push the government to monitor and improve the implementation of policies which prohibits gender discrimination in the workplace,” she said.

Mixed views

After its filing last week, HB 7758, or the Menstrual Leave Act, has been met with mixed reactions. Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson criticized it, saying it might result in layoffs and factory closures, and discourage long-term investments.

Even among the bill’s intended beneficiaries, there were differing opinions on the need for a monthly menstrual leave.

“The initiative is laudable for highlighting women’s health but I think this is already covered under sick leaves. What is more important is for organizations, especially those by male-led HR [human resources] managers, to be more understanding of this reason under (sick leaves),” Penelope Endozo, a government employee, told the Inquirer.

But for Chrisee dela Paz, another government worker, it was high time the Philippines adopted legislation allowing paid menstrual leaves, saying she was one of many women who suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome, an endocrine disorder that causes painful periods.

‘Disabling pain’

“This means I have to go to work at least twice a month suffering from disabling menstrual pain, sometimes coupled with severe cramps, nausea or dizziness,” she said.

Dela Paz pointed out that paid menstrual leaves were already being practiced by many international companies and had been passed into law in some countries like Spain and Japan.

Anne Peralta-Malonzo, a journalist, said that she was in favor of the proposed bill, as monthly periods could cause severe discomfort to female workers.

“You feel hot and you get this very heavy feeling,” she said, adding that she was lucky to be able to work at home on such days—a privilege that not all women have.


Menstrual leave may lead to layoffs, business closures — Lacson

Women’s party-list wants monthly ‘menstrual leave’ legislated

Spain passes law for Europe’s first ‘menstrual leave’

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