Thursday, November 10, 2016
Hontiveros Wants Women Workers to Get 150 days of Maternity Leave
Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on November 10, 2016 pushed for the passage of a law that will provide women workers 150 days of paid maternity leave.
In a press briefing organized by IndustriALL, a global union which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors, Hontiveros said that she filed Senate Bill No. 215 otherwise known as the "Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2016" to double women workers' maternity leave from the current 60 days to 120 days, with extra 30 days for solo mothers. She said there is an urgent need for the government and the business community to pay its share in easing the multiple burden of working women.
Hontiveros, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Women and Gender Equality, said that her committee has already conducted its first hearing on the bill. The Senator explained that the current maternity leave law must be radically amended as it provides the lowest number of maternity leave days in the whole ASEAN region, alongside Malaysia.
"Filipino women workers can only take a maternity leave of 60 days pay while those who undergo caesarian deliveries are entitled to only 78 leave days with pay. This pales in comparison to countries like Vietnam which provides 120-180 maternity leave days or even the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) standard of 98 days," Hontiveros said.
Adoptive parents and alternative care-givers
Hontiveros said that her bill also seeks to recognize the role of adoptive parents and alternate caregivers (spouse, common-law partner, relative up to the 4th degree of consanguinity) by extending to them the benefits of her proposed bill, such as allocating at most thirty days of the maternity leave to an alternate caregiver.
"Adoptive parenting and alternative care-giving are real parenting. Giving adoptive parents and alternative care-givers ample time for child-rearing will amplify the cohesion of the family", Hontiveros said.
Increased maternity leave to reduce child mortality
Hontiveros said that increasing women workers' maternity leave will greatly reduce child mortality in the Philippines. Citing a study from the United Nations Children’s Fund, she said that the extension of paid maternity leave increased breastfeeding rates from 10 to 80%, providing ample protection against disease and life-threatening illnesses.
“We cannot punish women workers who give birth with an inadequate and internationally-inferior maternity law. It's time for a maternity law that has a strong emphasis on women workers' rights, particularly reproductive rights, which historically have been the onus of women, and have largely been left with minimum respect and recognition in Philippine society," Hontiveros concluded.