Fa­ther­hood: The ul­ti­mate job

Business Mirror - - OPINION - Atty. Lorna Patajo-Ka­punan

THIS time of year, with Fa­ther’s Day fast ap­proach­ing, we take our time to cel­e­brate and honor the heroes of ev­ery house­hold: the Papa, Daddy, Tatay or what­ever en­dear­ing names we may call them. The im­por­tance of the fa­ther in the house­hold can­not be un­der­stated, for the fa­ther plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the fam­ily by pro­vid­ing and tak­ing care of the needs of the fam­ily. How­ever, aside from the con­ven­tional role of the fa­ther as the padre de pam­ilya, the fa­ther in the mod­ern-day con­text now plays a more ac­tive sup­port role dur­ing child­birth of the mother, which is why our leg­is­la­tors in 1996 came up with a law that bol­stered the la­bor stan­dards of male em­ploy­ees who are fathers, by pass­ing Repub­lic Act 8187, or the Pa­ter­nity Leave Act.

Ba­si­cally, pa­ter­nity leave en­ti­tles a male em­ployee seven days of paid leave dur­ing de­liv­ery of his wife, for the pur­pose of ef­fec­tively lend­ing sup­port to his wife in her pe­riod of re­cov­ery and/or in the nurs­ing of the new­born child.

To be en­ti­tled to a pa­ter­nity leave, the male em­ployee must be law­fully married and must co­habit with his le­git­i­mate wife, by co­hab­it­ing, mean­ing they must dwell or live to­gether as hus­band and wife. Fur­ther, the male em­ployee must have ap­plied for pa­ter­nity leave within a rea­son­able time from the date of the ex­pected de­liv­ery, or within such pe­riod as may be pro­vided by com­pany rules and reg­u­la­tions, or by col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment. How­ever, prior ap­pli­ca­tion for pa­ter­nity leave is not re­quired in the event of a mis­car­riage.

An­other im­por­tant as­pect pro­vided un­der the law is the lim­i­ta­tion on the avail­ment of the pa­ter­nity leave, the law ex­pressly pro­vides that the male em­ployee is en­ti­tled to a paid pa­ter­nity leave only for the first four de­liv­er­ies of his law­ful spouse. Fur­ther, the term de­liv­ery, un­der the law, con­tem­plates of child­birth or mis­car­riage.

Since the law is cat­e­gor­i­cal that pa­ter­nity leave is ap­pli­ca­ble only dur­ing the de­liv­ery of the le­gal spouse, it is, there­fore, not ap­pli­ca­ble to com­mon- law re­la­tion­ships, as they are not the kind of re­la­tion­ships con­tem­plated un­der the law.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that if an ex­ist­ing com­pany pol­icy or con­tract gives an em­ployee greater ben­e­fits, wherein the num­ber of days of pa­ter­nity leave granted is greater than seven days, then such greater ben­e­fits will ap­ply over the min­i­mum ben­e­fits un­der the Pa­ter­nity Leave Act. Nev­er­the­less, if the com­pany al­ready pro­vides for an emer­gency or con­tin­gency leave, with­out any spe­cific men­tion on pa­ter­nity leave, then the min­i­mum ben­e­fit of seven days pa­ter­nity leave un­der the law shall be ap­plied on top of the ex­ist­ing emer­gency or con­tin­gency leave. It must also be noted that in the event the fa­ther does not avail him­self of his pa­ter­nity leave dur­ing de­liv­ery of his wife, then such non­avail­ment of the pa­ter­nity leave will not ren­der it con­vert­ible to cash.

A thor­ough read­ing of the law would sug­gest that the em­ploy­ment sta­tus of the male em­ployee is not ma­te­rial for the en­ti­tle­ment of said leave, since it is not among the con­di­tions set forth to be en­ti­tled of said leave; what is im­por­tant is that, as long as dur­ing the time of the de­liv­ery, the male em­ployee must still be cur­rently em­ployed.

To en­sure strict com­pli­ance, the law pro­vides for a penalty for em­ploy­ers who refuse to grant pa­ter­nity-leave ben­e­fits to their qual­i­fied male em­ploy­ees, wherein the erring em­ployer may be pun­ished by a fine up to P25,000, or im­pris­on­ment of 30 days to six months.

Here’s to all the fathers and soon- to- be fathers out there. I hope this helps. For com­ments, you may e- mail me at lp­ka­punan@ka­punan­law.com.

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