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We Have Nothing to Fear and Everything to Gain From a Progressive Maternity Leave Policy – HONTIVEROS

 

Senator Risa Hontiveros reiterated her call to modernize the country’s maternity leave policy, saying that it is beneficial not only to the labor sector but also to businesses and the economy.

Hontiveros, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, said that a broad and progressive maternity leave policy is not only favorable to employees but also a good recruitment and retention tool for businesses of all sizes.

The Senator cited the 2007 experience of Google which was able to reduce by 50% of its female turnover rate by increasing its paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks. She also mentioned the experience of many other companies in different parts of the world, including Asia, that adopted better maternity leave policies.

It was reported that the Philippines is lagging behind other countries in Asia in terms of maternity leave duration. Recently, India, the region’s third largest economy, more than doubled its maternity leave for women working at the private sector to 26 weeks from 12 weeks.

“An expanded maternity leave policy is a ‘real win-win solution’ for both workers and employers. It contributes to addressing unemployment and increasing workers’ benefits. It improves employee retention and decreases the turnover rate. It also increases productivity and allows businesses of all sizes to save money on costly employee replacement costs such as the training of new recruits. Ultimately, it is beneficial to the economy,” Hontiveros explained.

Hontiveros also allayed fears that an expanded maternity leave law is harmful to small businesses that cannot afford to give their women workers additional paid maternity leave days. She said that many international studies showed that paid parental leaves have no significant negative effects on small-scale businesses. The lawmaker also said that the government can allow its different social insurance programs to help legitimate and struggling small businesses provide increased maternity leave days to their employees.

“We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from a progressive maternity leave policy. I am confident that small and medium enterprises can prosper with a fully implemented expanded maternity leave policy because in the end, it’s all about the basic needs of our working people, particularly our women,” Hontiveros concluded.

The Senate passed on third and final reading Hontiveros’ Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017 granting all female workers, regardless of civil status or legitimacy of their children, 120 days maternity leave with pay and an option to extend it for another 30 days without pay. 30 days can also be allotted to fathers and alternate caregivers.

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