REGARDLESS OF CIVIL STATUS: Expanded Maternity Leave Law a boon to women workers

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

The Expanded Maternity Leave Law which took effect March 2019, will benefit all women workers in the private and public sectors, including the informal economy, regardless of their civil status, according to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Western Visayas.

DOLE-6 Labor Relations Focal Person Niezel Anen Sabrido said all women workers can now avail of the 105-day maternity leave with pay and an option to extend for another 30 days without pay.

“All female workers in both private and public sectors, including those in the informal economy regardless of civil status whether kasal kamo sang lalaki, ukon live-in partner, or boyfriend pa lang kamo or the legitimacy of the child can actually participate or avail of this law,” she said. 

Sabrido added that the law applies to women workers whether she gave birth via Caesarean section or natural delivery. 

“What is good about this, wala man siya ga-distinguish whether normal pregnancy ukon ikaw nagbata through Caesarean ka. It will benefit all women from the different sectors,” Sabrido said. 

The mother can also transfer seven days of her leave benefits to the child’s father whether or not they were married, according to Sabrido.

Before, women workers were only granted 60 days of paid leave for normal delivery and 78 days for Caesarean delivery, Sabrido said.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Expanded Maternity Leave Act on February 22, 2019. 

DOLE formally issued the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law on May 1.

Based on the law, maternity leave shall be granted to female workers in every instance of pregnancy, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy, regardless of frequency. 

In cases of miscarriage or emergency termination, 60 days maternity leave with pay shall be granted to the women workers.

Moreover, solo parents shall also be granted an additional 15 days maternity leave with full pay.

While the law is only applicable to members of Social Security System (SSS), female workers in the informal economy are entitled to maternity leave benefits provided that they have remitted to the SSS for at least three months in the 12-month period immediately preceding semester of her childbirth, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy, according to the law. 

However, Sabrido said female workers who are neither voluntary nor regular members of SSS shall be governed by the PhilHealth Circular No. 0222-2014.

“This law is to afford women ample opportunity and time for women to recuperate after pregnancy for her to cope from the ‘trauma’ of childbirth and at the same time maka-adjust siya sa pagiging nanay niya and maka-adjust man sa iya work,” Sabrido explained.

Meanwhile, she encouraged female workers to raise their concerns to DOLE and SSS especially if the employer refuses to follow the guidelines of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law.

“If they have issues nga ang mga employers wala ga-follow sa 105 days, they can always raise it either to DOLE-6 or SSS and we can surely assist them,” Sabrido noted.

Based on the law, those who fail to comply with its provisions shall be punished by a fine of not less than P20,000 nor more than P200,000 and imprisonment of not less than six years and one day nor more than 12 years or both.