By Erma Edera, Ben Rosario, and Ellson Quismorio
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has assured the prompt crafting of the Expanded Maternity Leave Act’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and will release it within 45 days.
Bello said there would be retroactive application of the decree to cover new mothers who would give birth prior to the crafting of IRR.
“The law is always prospective but it can be retroactively applied if it is favorable to women,” he said.
“Lahat ng nanganak, ‘yung mga manganganak, (All those who had given birth and those who will give birth) they will be covered kahit wala pang (even if there’s no) IRR. Definitely, in the IRR, it will be retroactively implemented,” he added.
“Usually we are given 90 days but we don’t intend to fully utilize the 90 days. Baka in 45 days, we will come up with it. We will expedite the IRR,” he said.
Aside from DOLE, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Social Security System (SSS) were also mandated by the law to craft the IRR.
Bello also assured that employers will not be discouraged from hiring women following the signing into law by President Duterte of the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) measure. He said companies should be encouraged to hire women because when employees are happy, they are more productive.
“When you are a happy employee, you work well… It’s for the good of everybody especially for our women workers,” he said.
The Labor secretary said that he would meet other concerned government agencies to discuss the new law.
President Duterte signed into law the Expanded Maternity Leave measure on Feb. 20.
The new law provides 105 days of paid maternity leave to all working mothers and an additional 15 days to solo mothers.
Mothers will also have the option to extend for an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.
The maternity benefits will apply to every instance of pregnancy, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy regardless of frequency.
The law also includes a provision allowing the allocation of seven maternity leave days to fathers, raising the paternity leave to 14 days from the current seven days.
Prior to the enactment of the law, women are allowed only 60 days of paid maternity leave.
Expanded paternity leave
Inspired by the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is leading administration and opposition lawmakers in pushing for the passage of a bill that would lift the legal limits for the grant of paternity leave with pay to fathers of newborn babies.
Arroyo is joined opposition Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmi De Jesus of Gabriela, who are also authors of the newly signed Expanded Maternity Leave Act.
Reps. Alfred Vargas (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Strike Revilla (Lakas-CMD, Cavite); Pepito Pico (DIWA Partylist); Winston Castelo (Lakas-CMD, Quezon City); Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. (LP, Ifugao), and Johnny Ty-Pimentel batted for the approval of a measure that would amend the Paternity Leave Act of 1996.
Calls for the passage of the amended Paternity Leave Act grew stronger after President Duterte signed into law the Extended Maternity Leave Act.
Arroyo filed House Bill 2956 proposing to delete the provision of Republic Act 8187, the Paternity Leave Act of 1996 that limits paternity leave to fathers for the first four deliveries of their wife.
In her proposal, Arroyo wants paid paternity leave benefits of seven days be extended to a male employee even beyond the four deliveries of his legitimate spouse with whom he is cohabiting with.
Provisions of Arroyo’s bill are also contained in the legislative proposals filed by Revilla and Vargas.
But in their proposals, Brosas, De Jesus, Pimentel, and Castelo want the paid paternity leave of absence be extended from seven to 15 days.
In HB 5995, which they jointly authored, Brosas and De Jesus said additional days of paid leave of absence will give the father “ample opportunity to give support to his wife or common-law spouse and newborn child for their prompt recovery.”
The Gabriela proposal also provides for the extension of 15 days leave without pay for the father.
“Seven days are not enough for the complete recuperation of the mother and the father should be by her side to see that she regains her strength in weaning the infant,” stressed Castelo in filing HB 4130.
Arroyo said the intent of RA 81874 is noble but the four-delivery limit contradicts its objective.
“With the passage of this bill, the husband will be in a better position to give support to his wife before, during and after her delivery and give the husband more time to take care of the other children in his wife’s absence,” Arroyo explained.
Under Arroyo’s proposal the paternity leave will apply to all deliveries of the legitimate spouse of the father and will include childbirth or any miscarriage.
Pimentel seeks to increase to 15 days the existing and rather measly seven-day paternity leave benefit payable to every working husband for each of the first four childbirths of his lawful wife with whom he is cohabitating in his separate House Bill 3401.
“We have to be more supportive of both mother and father during childbirth, so it is just a matter of time before Congress also raises the paternity leave benefit,” said the Mindanao lawmaker.
“We want to allow husbands to physically and emotionally support their wives during childbirth, and to experience early child-father bonding for a longer time,” Pimentel, a father of five, said.
“We have to give fathers at least half a month off work, with full pay, for them to be able to lend ample support to their wives in nursing their newborns, and to help mothers recuperate from childbirth,” he stressed.