House passes 100-day maternity leave

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — The House of Representatives passed a bill expanding maternity leave to 100 days on its third and final reading on Tuesday.

Both houses of Congress are expected to meet soon to reconcile House Bill 4113 and its counterpart measure Senate Bill 1305. The Senate proposal was passed in March last year, and provides for 120 days of maternity leave.

READ: Senate approves bill for 120-day maternity leave

"I'm very happy to support 120 [days], but just to be sure that we consider the concerns of the employers sector, we should hear from [the Social Security System]," House Deputy Speaker and co-author of the bill Pia Cayetano told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"As a women advocate, I'm all for 120 -- but I just want to be sure that we can justify that."

Under the proposal, both the SSS and the employer will shoulder the employee's pay.

At present, the law only provides for 60 days in paid maternity leave for normal childbirth and 78 days for caesarean delivery. However, the International Labour Organization sets the standard at 98 days.

After its second reading last week, House Committee on Women and Gender Equality Chairperson Bernadette Herrera-Dy said small business owners were primarily concerned about how their operations would be affected by a longer leave. Cayetano has since said that employers' groups have lent their support to the proposal.

READ: Solon: Small businesses worry over effects of extended maternity leave

"Naturally since they represent employers, they will say that, 'Okay, this may be a little difficult...' but in the end, they expressed support. It's like, you gotta bite the bullet," said Cayetano. "This is for the workforce... It's for the family, but it's [also] for society."

The Philippines has also one of the shortest maternity leaves in the region. Southeast Asian neighbor Vietnam provides between 120 to 180 days of leave, Singapore provides 122 days, and Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand provide 90 days.