Victory as the Philippines passes expanded maternity leave law

02.10.2018

Approved in the bicameral committee conference on 1 October, the Philippines are now moving towards 15 weeks paid maternity leave. The law, known as the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2018, increases the current paid maternity leave from 60 or 78 to 105 days. Yet to be signed by the President, the bill is the result of an intense campaign led mostly by IndustriALL affiliated unions and partners.

In 2014, IndustriALL kicked off its campaign on maternity protection throughout Asia. In the Philippines, IndustriALL affiliates pursued 120 days maternity leave, with ILO Convention 183 as benchmark. During the early period, the now Senator Risa Hontiveros committed to pursue a 120-day maternity leave, supported by IndustriALL Philippines. Since Hontiveros became senator in 2016, one of her priority bills is the 120-day expanded maternity leave which passed the Senate in March 2017. 

The IndustriALL Philippines Women’s Committee has been at the forefront of the campaign;  lobbying in both Houses of Congress, providing legislators with IndustriALL's publication on maternity protection, writing to the President of the Philippines, canvassing the media and working together with other labour and women's groups.

Research has played an important role during the campaign, gathering facts on maternal health, childbirth mortality and related statistics in the Philippines, the existing maternity leave law and international standards, and the country’s international commitment under the sustainable development goals. evolving during the campaign. An IndustriALL survey providing a comparative analysis of maternity benefits of some countries in South East Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar & Philippines) also played a key role, as it was part of materials distributed to legislators in both Houses of Congress. 

In addition to the 105 days paid maternity leave, the bill also includes:

  • Grant of the aforementioned benefit to all female workers regardless of civil status
  • Prohibition of employment discrimination against women due to maternity benefits
  • Monetary penalties and nonrenewal of business permit of non-compliant enterprises
  • An additional 15 days of paid maternity leave for solo parents
  • An option to transfer at most seven of the 105 days to female worker’s identified alternate care giver
  • Reiteration that private employees must receive their full pay for the 105-day period—with a clause requiring employers to pay the differential between the employee’s full pay and what the Philippine Social Security System currently provides

The bill also grants 60 days of paid leave for female workers who will suffer from miscarriage or medically-approved termination of pregnancy.

“Extending paid maternity leave affirms the right of women workers in the Philippines. I commend the Philippines Women’s Committee, the legislators, their support staff, women advocates, our labour and women's groups, and everyone else involved in making this a reality. United we win,” says IndustriALL Executive Committee member Eva Arcos.