House approval of 100-day maternity leave a victory for working women in the Philippines

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) congratulates the authors of the expanded maternity leave bill for its approval on Third Reading at the House of Representatives and commends the legislators for their unwavering commitment to seeing the bill through in the 17th Congress after languishing for several years in the previous congresses. This victory would not have been possible without the steadfast support of women workers and organizations who have worked as hard as the bill’s authors in pushing for the law. We thank the champions, all PLCPD members and officers, who remained resilient in defending the bill: Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Rep. Emmi de Jesus, Rep. France Castro, Rep. Tom Villarin, Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Deputy Speaker Linabelle Ruth Villarica, Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano in the House of Representatives; and Senator Risa Hontiveros in the Senate.

Almost two years after it was sponsored in the plenary, House Bill 4113 or the 100-Day Maternity Leave Law was approved on Third Reading at the House of Representatives on September 4. Its counterpart in the Senate, which proposes 120 days, was passed on Third and Final Reading in March last year.

This development brings us one step closer to seeing an Expanded Maternity Leave Law soon, fulfilling the country’s commitment to Filipino women and to International Labour Organization Convention 183, which recommends a minimum of 14 weeks or 98 days of maternity leave. Both versions of the bill aim to amend the Republic Act 7322, which only allows 60 days of paid maternity leave and 78 days for those who undergo caesarian deliveries and acknowledge the rights of all working women in both formal and informal economy, regardless of their civil status.

Studies show the positive impact of paid parental leave on the health and welfare of mothers and their children, and families in general. Longer paid parental leave will grant working mothers longer time to bond with their babies and will encourage complete and exclusive breastfeeding. It will also allow working mothers to have enough time to regain their health and wellness, thus being productive employees when they return to work. It is not only favorable to working women and their children but it also benefits employers in the form of employee retention and satisfaction.

PLCPD believes that this victory has opened new doors for advancing not only women’s rights but also children’s rights and welfare. But a few more crucial steps are needed to ensure that the expanded maternity leave bill will be a law. The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development urges both houses of Congress to fast-track the convening of the bicameral conference committee and ratify the final version of the bill. We are confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will hold on to his commitment to support the expanded maternity leave and that he will immediately sign the bill into law.

Millions of working women in the Philippines have waited several years for these 100 days.