February 20, 2019 marks the enactment of the lauded Expanded Maternity Leave Law. Under this mandate, women working in government and private sectors have 105-day paid leave regardless of the mode of delivery. On top of this are additional 15 days for single mothers, 7 days transferable to fathers, and another 30 days of unpaid extension.
As the number of paid leave lengthens, financial assistance is also set to increase. The state-run Social Security System (SSS) explains that the current maximum of $629 will be raised to $1300. Those who belong to the informal economy are also covered given that they remit sufficient contributions before childbirth, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy.
The old law granted 60 days to female employees and 78 days to those who underwent cesarean delivery. Other than the longer paid leave, women can avail of the benefits regardless of the number of pregnancies and civil status.
The bill’s principal author, Representative Pia Cayetano, reiterated that the measure acknowledges women’s dual role in society “as members of the work force and as mothers.” Risa Hontiveros, principal sponsor and author in the senate, said that the law puts the country at par with international standards.