SSS wel­comes ex­panded ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit

Sun Star Bacolod - - Topstories -

THE state-run So­cial Se­cu­rity Sys­tem (SSS) wel­comed the swift pas­sage of the pro­posed ex­panded ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit for fe­male work­ers with an iden­ti­fied source of fund­ing dur­ing the bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence com­mit­tee held at the lower house yes­ter­day.

The pro­posed law or the 105-Day Ex­panded Ma­ter­nity Leave Law of 2018, a con­sol­i­da­tion of Sen­ate Bill 1305 and House Bill 4113, has iden­ti­fied that the amount nec­es­sary to im­ple­ment the Act shall be in­cluded in the an­nual Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act.

“We are very thank­ful to the bi­cam­eral com­mit­tee as they have seen the need to iden­tify enough fund­ing mech­a­nism to fully im­ple­ment the pro­posed law. We, at SSS, rec­og­nize their ad­vo­cacy to pro­vide bet­ter so­cial se­cu­rity pro­tec­tion to fe­male work­ers, who are more at risk dur­ing preg­nancy and birth,” SSS pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Em­manuel Dooc said.

Un­der the pro­posed law, the cur­rent num­ber of com­pens­able days for ma­ter­nity leave will in­crease to 105 days from 60 days and 78 days, for nor­mal and ce­sarean de­liv­ery, re­spec­tively.

Solo par­ents will en­joy ad­di­tional 15 days or a to­tal of 120 days of ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit. There will also be no limit on the num­ber of times of preg­nan­cies cov­ered com­pared to the cur­rent lim­i­ta­tion of four preg­nan­cies.

“We have yet to com­pute the num­bers for the said mea­sure. We only have ac­tu­ar­ial stud­ies for the 100-day and 120-day pro­pos­als. In the ac­tu­ar­ial study for the 100-day pro­posal, the ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit dis­burse­ment will in­crease by about P3.6 bil­lion in the ini­tial year of im­ple­men­ta­tion. But that study does not in­clude the un­lim­ited num­ber of cov­ered preg­nan­cies, as well as the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit for solo par­ents, so we also have to look into that. We’ll present the num­bers from our ac­tu­ar­ial study soon,” Dooc said.

SSS ac­tu­ar­ial stud­ies showed that an ad­di­tional 0.3 per­cent in monthly con­tri­bu­tion is needed if the ear­lier ver­sion of the ex­panded ma­ter­nity bill will be passed into law. So from the cur­rent 11 per­cent monthly con­tri­bu­tion capped at monthly salary credit, it would have to in­crease to 11.3 per­cent. That would cover for the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit dis­burse­ments and an in­crease in un­funded li­a­bil­ity to be brought about by in­creas­ing the ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit pay­ment pe­riod to 100 days.

“We are not against any pro­posal that would give ad­di­tional ben­e­fit to our mem­bers. We are sen­si­tive to the needs of the mem­bers who have clam­ored over the years for higher SSS ben­e­fits. How­ever, we can­not af­ford to lose the pen­sion fund in the fu­ture if no sus­tain­able source of fund­ing is iden­ti­fied to fund the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit pay­ments,” Dooc said.

At present, the con­tri­bu­tion rate for ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit still re­mains at 0.4 per­cent of the monthly salary credit of a qual­i­fied mem­ber or around P64 for ev­ery P1760 monthly con­tri­bu­tion.

SSS has so far dis­bursed more than P3 bil­lion worth of ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits to over 157,000 qual­i­fied fe­male mem­bers from Jan­uary to June 2018. Ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit dis­burse­ments jumped by 12 per­cent to P3.37 bil­lion dur­ing the first half of 2018 from the P3.01 bil­lion dis­burse­ments on the same six-month pe­riod last year.

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