Duterte signs law expanding maternity leave to 105 days

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law extending paid maternity leave to 105 days, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Thursday. 

The new law, which was signed Wednesday, also allows working mothers-- regardless of civil status-- to extend their leave for another 30 days, but without pay. On the other hand, single mothers can have an additional 15-day paid leave. 

Seven of the 105-day leave benefit may be transferable to fathers. This may be claimed on top of the seven-day paternity leave provided under the 1996 Paternity Leave Act.

The previous law allows only 60 days paid maternity leave for women for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarean section.

 

'A win for women'

Politicians and a labor group welcomed the new law.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, author and principal sponsor of the measure, said the new law is a "massive victory" for women and their families.

"The signing into law of the Expanded Maternity Leave Act is a moment mothers, families, and children will not only remember, but a victory generations of Filipinos will reap the benefits of for the rest of their lives," Hontiveros said in a statement.

"Mothers will have more time to rest after giving birth. Children will be better fed. Fathers and caregivers can bond and create more lasting memories with their loved ones, as families everywhere receive the greatest gift of all - time," she added.

Women party-list group Gabriela said decade-long efforts and campaign of female workers have finally paid off.

"Produkto ito ng aming masigasig na kampanya at lobby kasama ang iba't ibang grupo, bilang pagkilala sa ambag ng mga kababaihan sa ating ekonomiya," the group said in a statement. "This is a significant advance in ensuring women's right to maternal health and in upholding the security of tenure of pregnant women workers."

[Translation: This is a product of our continuous campaign and lobbying, together with other groups, to recognize the contribution of women in our economy.]

Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said the law is a "decisive win" for both women workers and social justice.

Meanwhile, labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said the law is a win-win situation for both working mothers and businesses.

"With the faithful enforcement of the law, the TUCP expects the next generation of Filipino workers to be healthier and more productive with the measure ensuring more protection for their working mothers who nurture them," it said in a statement.

 

No to discrimination

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, issued a warning to companies against gender discrimination now that maternity leaves are longer.

Panelo, in his media briefing Thursday, said companies which would refuse to hire women following the law's enactment will be held accountable.

"Bawal ang discrimination sa atin (discrimination is not allowed here), they will be accountable for that. I don't think they will," the spokesman said. "Regardless of the rules and regulations ng mga (of the) companies, they will have to follow the law now. Wala na silang (they don't have a) choice."

Panelo said companies should consider the granting of long leaves as a "social service."

Vice President Leni Robredo said the measure will be a huge help for mothers who don't have the financial capacity to hire babysitters.

"At least maiiwanan niya iyong kaniyang anak na medyo malaki-laki na. Kaya ito, mahaba-habang pinush ng maraming advocates, at nagpapasalamat tayo na, finally, ngayon ay batas na siya," Robredo said in an interview.

[Translation: At least they would be able to leave their children who would be a little bit older. A lot of advocates have pushed for this, so we're thankful that finally, it's now a law.]

 

CNN Philippines Correspondent Ina Andolong and Digital Producer Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.