With 191 affirmative votes, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 4113 that will increase to 100 days the paid maternity of women workers in both the private and government sector.
There were neither negative votes nor abstention when H.B. 4113 was presented on the floor for third reading, a few days after it won unanimous nod from across political groups in the Lower House.
The bill consolidated 15 different versions proposing to increase maternity leave of absence, with authors pointing out that the current 60 paid leave is detrimental to both mother and infant.
Authors included Reps. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (BH Partylist); Alfredo Vargas III (PDP-Laban Quezon City); Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Gus Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Paranaque City); Emmeline Aglipay Villar (NP, Las Pinas); France Castro (ACT Teachers Partylist); Emmi de Jesus and Arlene De Jesus, both of Gabriela Partylist).
Herrera-Dy, chairperson of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality, said the 100 days leave will cover married and unmarried women, childbirth and miscarriage.
Herrera Dy, who defended the measure on the floor, has agreed to limit the longer maternity benefits to four pregnancies. However, women workers will still enjoy the 60-day paid leave five or more deliveries.
She also accepted Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman’s amendment that seeks to bar employers from discriminating women from being hired.
“Now that the bill (H.B. 4113) has passed third and final reading at the House, we expect smooth sailing through the bicameral conference committee during the reconciliation process of the largely similar Senate and House versions,” she said.
Vargas, who authored H.B. 1382 that proposed three months of paid maternity leave, said H.B. 4113 seeks to amend Republic Act 7322, Labor Code of the Philippines; the Social Security Act of 1997 and the Revised Adminstrative Code of 1987 that grants a 60 day paid maternity leave for pregnant women for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian delivery.
He noted that the bill is vital in protecting working mothers and their infants’ right to proper health care.
“Recent studies show that extending paid maternity leave for new mothers reduces infant mortality. The cause is yet to be known but it may be linked to longer periods of breast feeding and better heatlh care,” Vargas said.
Vargas added that longer maternity leave also improves maternal health and lessens the likelihood of miscarriage and pregnancy complications.
Originally, H.B. 4113 extend 100 days of paid maternity leave for female workers regardless of the number of deliveries.
However, the women and gender panel, made aware of the misgivings raised on the measure by the private sector, agreed to limit the maternity benefit for four pregnancies.
De Jesus explained that women who deliver over four pregnancies will be entitled to the current 60 days paid maternity leave.
Aside from the 100 days maternity leave, women workers may extend their leave to another 30 days but without pay.
The bill provides that a female member of the Social Security System who has paid at least three monthly contributions in the 12 months immediately preceding the semester of her childbirth or miscarriage will be paid her daily maternity benefit to be computed based on the average monthly salary credit for
Female workers will be entitled to the maternity leave coverage regardless of civil status.
The bill guarantees non-diminution of benefits and security of tenure to all women who demand for maternity benefits provided by the measure.
The Civil Service Commission and the Social Security System are directed to conduct a period review of the implementation of the measure and submit a valuation report every four year for SSS and three years for the CSC.