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Paid maternity leave at Accenture in the Philippines effective September 1 rises to 120 calendar days—a benefit several pending bills seek to provide to all working mothers in the country.
The Philippines' statutory paid maternity leave is 60 days.
“Accenture recognizes the valuable contribution and sacrifice of working mothers, who need more time off from work to focus on caring for their newborn,” Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag said on Thursday.
Accenture has over 35,000 personnel in the Philippines and has “delivery centers” in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu City, and San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte.
At the House of Representatives, Congressman Manny Pacquiao is batting for 180 days maternity leave benefits with HB 3590.
Four of Pacquiao's colleagues aim for 120 days. They are Rep. Antonio Tinio (HB 5440), Rep. Diosdado Arroyo (HB 2881), Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla (HB 1481), and Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (HB 1329).
Tinio said that for Caesarian delivery the maternity leave ought to be 138 days.
Senate Bill 2661 of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV proposes a 120-day maternity leave for all employees in the public and private sector.
In SB 2083 and 2084, Senator Nancy Binay is pushing for fully-paid maternity benefit for the employed mother equivalent to her daily salary for the period of 120 days. SB 2083 is for government employees while SB 2084 is for private sector workers.
SB 288 filed by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. seeks to extend the current maternity leave of 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian delivery to unmarried pregnant women in the government service.
SB 2710 of Sen. Pia Cayetano proposes to extend paid maternity leave to 90 days for female employees whether they are “married or unmarried, in the government service and in the private sector” and an option of additional 30 days of leave without pay.
Sen. Cayetano has noted that the international standard of maternity leave—set by the United Nations International Labor Organization—is 14 weeks.
“(O)r roughly three and a half months ang maternity leave, and at least two-third of that leave must be fully paid. It is disappointing to find out na hindi pala signatory ang Philippines dun. But I will make sure that we comply with that international standard,” Cayetano said.
At a Senate hearing last March, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative Lotta Sylwander advocated for maternity leave of up to six months or 180 calendar days.
“We would prefer six months maternity leave as it would ensure proper nutrition in the early stage of the child’s life,” Sylwander said.
Sylwander informed the Senate that Vietnam's six-month maternity leave for employees in the private and government sectors has had “very minimal effect on the side of the employers sector.”
Sen. Cayetano agreed that “six months is ideal, because six months is consistent with fully breastfeeding your baby - for six months. But I do believe that that will be difficult for us to achieve at this point. What we can consider is six months but only a certain portion will be fully paid and then the rest would be leave without pay.”
Cayetano said she expects “some resistance from employers.”
“(B)ut what I told the panel earlier is that it is very important that society adjust to the fact that women now make up 51% of the workforce. So you cannot have policies from the 1930s [being enforced] in the year 2015, at a time when there were very few women in the workforce,” the senator said.
In the Senate hearing last March, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president and general manager Robert Vergara expressed support for the Senate bills seeking paid maternity leave of up to four months or 120 days.
Civil Service Commission (CSC) director III Prisco Rivera Jr. said the exact number of days of the maternity leave must be carefully discussed so as to balance the interests of both the business sector and of workers.
“We suggest that both the private and government employees must have the same extent of maternity leave benefits, regardless of the employment status, whether contractual, permanent or appointed and irregardless also of the civil status, whether married or single parent,” Rivera also said.
Social Security System (SSS) Actuarial Services Division chief George Ongkeko Jr. admitted that the current levels of SSS contributions would not be enough to cover the maternity benefits proposed in some of the bills.
“We know the intent of the bills and we support it, but considering the situation of SSS right now, the funds might not suffice. There should be a matching increase in the contributions as well,” Rivera said.
Recent moves overseas
Software company Adobe Systems Inc. said on Monday it is doubling the maternity leave it grants, making it the third company in the U.S. technology industry in a week to give new parents more paid time off.
New mothers at the California-based firm will receive 26 weeks of paid leave, up from 12 weeks, and primary caregivers and new parents will get 16 weeks of paid parental leave.
"We join an industry movement to better support our employees while striving towards increased workforce diversity," said Donna Morris, Adobe senior vice president of People and Places.
Adobe has 13,500 employees globally, including 6,500 in the United States. About 30 percent are women.
In an interview, Morris said the new leave program had been in the planning stages for a long time and was not in response to announcements by video streaming company Netflix Inc. and Microsoft Corp last week.
Morris said Adobe's increased parental leave for new parents through childbirth, adoption, surrogacy and foster care, and maternity leave will become effective on Nov. 1.
She said the move was in line with changes in the tech industry, and aimed to increase the diversity of Adobe's workforce and to support employees during major life changes.
Netflix announced that its employees could take up to a year of paid maternity or paternity leave in the first year after the birth or adoption of a child. It also offered the flexibility of returning to work full or part time.
The move was seen as a game changer in the United States, which lags other developed countries in the amount of parental leave offered to employees. Paid maternity leave in the United States is usually about 30 days, according to Mary Tavarozzi, a senior consultant with benefit consultant group Towers Watson.
Microsoft Corp. also announced last week it was increasing benefits for parents, extending its fully paid leave for new parents to 12 weeks. — with Elizabeth Marcelo/Reuters/Earl Victor Rosero, GMA News