Good news for soon-to-be mommies!
Only mothers like me can tell how much the passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave Act can do so much for us and our babies after the period of giving birth. While I may not enjoy this benefit at the moment, it is something that mommies should really be thankful for. Truly a “victory for women and families” as claimed by various women’s rights advocates and workers’groups.
The new law signed by President Duterte on February 20, allows working mothers in private and public sectors 105 days of paid leave from the previous benefit of 60 days. Not only that, 7 days of these paid leave credits may be transferrable to fathers, who may now enjoy up to fourteen days of paternity leave.
Remarkably, the law now applies to every instance of pregnancy, removing the 4-pregnancy cap. It shall be applied to all female workers regardless of civil status. A special benefit is also given to single mothers, who will be given an additional 15 days of maternity leave. These new salient points of the law breaks barriers and removes all sorts of discrimination against single mothers and unwed women giving birth.
I remember the two instances when I gave birth to my kids, and the time I spent with them while I was on leave. I can say I’m still lucky having experienced normal deliveries which made me recover faster and attend to my kids the soonest time possible. I can compare the pain and recovery of those who gave birth via caesarian section, who usually need 2-3 months of recovery from their wounds.
The short time given to us mothers after giving birth of 60 days prior to the signing of the Expanded Maternity Leave Act is indeed precious and worth every second. Not only can we provide our baby with the much needed care and nourishment, but it is also the time for us women to give time for ourselves to recover physically, emotionally, mentally, and even financially. Now, we can have more time to bond with our baby and prepare for the activities that come with having a new member of the family.
At the same time, our husbands, who are expected to support and help me all throughout our journey from giving birth to having a new person to look after, can also get to enjoy additional days of spending time with the family. At most instances, daddies are tasked to run some errands in the grocery, fix some furniture for the baby, and most importantly, just be there for his wife and kid.
Around the world, the Philippines does not even fare enough with the new provision of 105-day maternity leave. Most countries in Europe offer more weeks of paid leave to new mothers such as Bulgaria giving 58.6 weeks of maternity benefit, this being the longest paid maternity leave across the globe. In the United Kingdom, mothers can be off for a whole year after giving birth but only the first 39 weeks are paid.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines still belong to the group of countries that “perform poorly” with less than 12 weeks of paid maternity benefit. Vietnam and Mongolia are the top countries giving more than 17 weeks off to women who gave birth.
While the Implementing Rules and Regulations are not yet available, this big development will certainly mark a historic milestone that will surely benefit the Filipino mothers, and most especially the Filipino families.