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Bicam panel approves expanded maternity leave

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The bicameral conference committee on Monday approved the reconciled Senate and House versions of the bill extending paid maternity leave for female government and private sector workers to 105 days.

In an emailed statement, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the proposed expanded maternity law breezed through the legislative bicameral committee tasked to reconcile versions of the bill.

"The bicameral version of the law provides the following: 105 days of paid maternity leave credits to all working mothers, of which seven days (daddy quota) are transferable to fathers, and an additional 15 days additional to solo mothers, for a total of 120 days," Hontiveros said.

"The law applies to all instance of pregnancies, removing the four-pregnancy cap," she added.

The House's version of the bill only provides that female workers are entitled to 100 days of paid maternity leave with an option to extend maternity leave for an additional 30 days without pay.

During the meeting, Gabriela Women's Party Representative Emmi De Jesus said the Social Security System should be able to cover the additional maternity benefits for female private sector employees without increasing the contributions of workers by 0.3 to 0.4 percent.

"The SSS should not use the expanded maternity leave as justification for a contribution that will further cut the take-home pay of our workers," she said.

"The state pension fund should address its inefficient collection, failed investments, and foregone revenues from loans instead of depriving mothers of longer maternity leave period," she added.

Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin lauded the approval of the bill at the bicameral level.

"This paves the way for an historic victory for Filipino women workers as it goes beyond a matter of maternal health or sustaining the country's wealth for generations to come, but most importantly, it upholds the rights of women in the workplace," he said.

With the approval, the reconciled version is set to be submitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives for ratification, and the ratified version will then be signed by the President into law. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas and Erwin Colcol/RSJ, GMA News

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