On the 1 May 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Philippines’ new Expanding Maternity Leave Law (Republic Act 11210), which was approved by the Senate of the Philippines back in March 2017. Specifically affecting working mothers, the law essentially increases mandatory leave allowances for new mothers, with additional benefits for single parents. Although some observers from the Philippines’ business community have voiced concerns, the populist Duterte pushed forward with the law as part of a wider effort to expand employee protections.
What is the Expanding Maternity Leave Law?
Spearheaded by the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE), the new law expands the existing maternity leave benefits offered to all working mothers in the Philippines. In more detail, those benefits essentially involve:
- Extending the current period of paid maternity leave to 105 days (from 60 days) for normal childbirth or caesarean delivery
- An option to extend maternity leave a further 30 days without pay - so long as written notice is given at least 45 days before the original leave is set to end.
Crucially, the law applies to all instances of pregnancy and all categories of working mothers in the Philippines. This means the leave benefit is available to female workers regardless of their civil status, employment status, or method of delivery: under previous rules, women were granted only 60 days leave for normal delivery and 78 days leave for a caesarean delivery, and the law was actually capped at the first 4 pregnancies.
The IRR also includes provisions to extend the new maternity benefits to women in the informal economy sector, to national athletes, and to women who are voluntary contributors to the Philippines Social Security System.
The IRR includes additional provisions for single mothers who will, under the new system, receive 120 days of paid maternity leave. In cases of miscarriage, or emergency terminations, women will receive 60 days of maternity leave at full pay.
The law also includes benefits for fathers: up to 7 days of the 105 days allocated to women for maternity leave may be transferred to fathers, effectively raising the length of paid paternity leave to a potential 15 days.
The IRR was signed into law on 1 May but will apply to all working mothers who gave birth on or after 11 March 2019.
Some observers are worried that businesses may now hire fewer women as a way to protect profits after the introduction of the Expanding Maternity Leave Law. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) highlighted a survey which showed that up to 70% of the members of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines were concerned by the possible “higher cost implications” of the law: the TUCP interpreted that figure as a possibility that employers might seek to sidestep the problem through discriminatory hiring practices.
Responding to the survey, TUCP President, Raymond Mendoza reminded employers that Article 135 of the Philippines Labour Code makes sex discrimination unlawful. Mendoza called on the Department of Labour and Employment to enforce appropriate punishments, which include fines up to a maximum P200,00, cancelled business permits, and even prison terms.
Taking a typically strong tone, spokesman for the president, Salvador Panelo, addressed the TUCP survey at a press conference in March. Panelo suggested that employers in the Philippines were “family-oriented” so would get behind the new law - and that expanded maternity leave should be considered a fixture of the Philippines’ social service landscape.
What Should Employers Do Now?
Since the new maternity leave rules are now in effect, it’s vital that employers in the Philippines adjust their payroll to the new environment quickly. International employers should look particularly closely at their employee population to establish who qualifies for the benefit, who will need it, and how it will affect both their budget and their operations in the Philippines.
For more information on tax and social security laws in the Philippines, browse activpayroll’s Philippines Global Insight Guide.