Fatherhood: The ultimate job
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 email@example.com.