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A Philippine Senator wants to increase the maternity leave period to 90 days for married or unmarried female employees in government and private sector with an extendable option of 30 days without pay.

In Senate Bill 2710, Senator Pia Cayetano said her proposal is based on the declared policy of the State under Article XIII, Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution to protect and promote the rights and welfare of working women, taking into account their maternal functions, and to provide an enabling environment in which their full potential can be achieved.

“Toward this end, and in consonance with local and international legal instruments that protect and promote the rights of women, the State shall institutionalize a mechanism to expand the maternity leave period of working women to provide them with ample transition time to regain health and overall wellness as well as to assume maternal roles before resuming full-time work,” she explained.

The proposed measure seeks to amend Section 11 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order 292 as prescribed in The Revised Administrative Code of 1987, which provides for the grant of maternity leave in the government sector.

For the private sector, the bill aims to amend Section 14-A of Republic Act 1161 as amended, or the Social Security Act, the law that gives working women in the private sector a daily maternity leave benefit equivalent to 100 percent of her average daily salary credit for 60 days or two months of maternity leave for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian delivery.

It also seeks to amend Article 133 of the Presidential Decree 442, or the Labor Code of the Philippines, which specifies that a qualified pregnant woman employee shall be entitled maternity leave of at least two weeks prior to expected date of delivery and another four weeks after normal delivery or abortion, or a total of six weeks maternity leave.

Cayetano cited a recent study conducted by Time magazine that mothers who immediately resume work after giving birth experience disparaging health and increased parental stress.

“This, in turn, affects the total well-being of the family, including the health and cognitive development of children,” according to the study as quoted by Cayetano.

The senator said that the measure seeks to provide an additional 30-day maternity leave for working mothers in the government and in the private sector to provide them with sufficient time to take care of their newborn babies and regain their full health.

“This will grant working mothers not only longer time to bond with their babies but also have stronger chance to complete exclusive breastfeeding for six months,” Cayetano said.

In addition, she added, the bill mandates the review of the policy on maternity leave benefits for employees in the private sector to ensure that their rights and welfare are protected.

Meanwhile, Section 6 of the proposed measure also assures those who shall avail of the additional 30-day maternity leave, whether in government service or private sector, of security of tenure.

As such, the exercise of this option cannot be used as basis for termination from employment, according to the bill.

“It is for these reasons that I earnestly seek the passage of this bill,” Cayetano said.

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