Workers from various women’s groups welcomed the passage of House Bill 4113 or the “100-Day Maternity Leave Bill” at the House of Representatives today. Organizations who commended the bill’s passage is Gabriela Women’s Party, Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK), Defend Job Philippines, Breastfeeding Pinays, Center for Women’s Resources, Philippine Commission on Women, and Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, among others.
The groups said that they are fully supportive of the approved and consolidated bill in Congress that will expand maternity leave period from 60 days to 100 paid days. Female workers from both the public and private sectors can avail the leave.
HB 4113 also covers pregnancy, either normal or caesarian delivery, and abortion. Last March 6, 2017, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1305 or the “Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017,” which seeks to grant 120 days of maternity leave to expectant mothers.
Reproductive health for working mothers
Before the approval of HB 4113 and the meeting at the Lower House, advocates posed with lawmakers at the plenary hall entrance in time for the resumption of Congress session today.
“The passage of a law that will expand maternity leave is a big and a significant step forward in developing reproductive health for working Filipino women nationwide. This will provide enough time for mothers to regain their strength that they lost during pregnancy up to the actual delivery of the child and before they go back to work,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Emmi de Jesus.
De Jesus added that granting an expanded maternity leave also gives mothers and infants more time for breastfeeding, thus maximizing health benefits for both.
In a press statement, Defend Job Philippines fully supported the initiative of women legislators in the House of Representatives.
“Such move will mean so much to all working mothers in nurturing and being with their newborn babies at the early stage of their development. This will further empower and strengthen our toiling Filipino women’s struggle in upholding their right to maternal health,” said Defend Job Philippines.
Women’s groups, Gabriela and KMK on the other hand said that a law expanding maternity leave is a “clear recognition of the value of working Filipino mothers in giving life not just for industries, but for future generation of the land.”
The group also added that maternal health is distinct and that the state must recognize and ensure the necessity of maternity leaves for women workers.
Gabriela said that they will also introduce an additional provision on the measure seeking penalties for employers which will use the pregnancy of the worker to deny promotion or to effect suspension or dismissal.
De Jesus added that capitalists should stop blackmailing the measure for supposedly posing the threat of company losses, as the expanded maternity leave as contained in HB 4113 is not mandatory aside from the fact that majority of Filipino women workers are currently non-regular workers who are already being denied the current 60-78 maternity leave period.
“We warn big capitalists not to use maternity leave as basis for discriminating and pregnant workers from work or worst terminating expectant mothers from their current jobs,” de Jesus said.