MANILA -- (UPDATED) Up to 105 days of paid maternity leave will benefit the economy, contrary to fears raised by an employers' group, a lawmaker seeking to expand such benefits said Thursday.
Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano dismissed as "very antiquated," the view of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines that a longer maternity leave will push companies to hire men over women.
The Senate and the House of Representatives both ratified the expanded maternity leave bill, paving the way for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign it into law.
"Obviously, women are here to stay. They are a solid part of our economy and the only way we can make them more productive is to recognize that they play dual roles in society," she told ANC's Headstart.
"Many of them remain mothers, and at the same time, working just as hard as the men. If you want these women to continue to be able to work and to go to work every day and not be home taking care of a sick child, you need to recognize that they have work back home," she said.
Cayetano first filed the bill when she was a senator but a similar legislation was not passed in the House of Representatives. She refiled it in the House when she was elected representative of Taguig.
Under current laws, the Social Security System will cover the average monthly credit for all employees, and this amounts to P16,000, she said.
This means then that for minimum wage earners who wish to extend their maternity leave for another month, the employer "would not even have to spend a cent," she said.
"You’re earning millions of pesos, you’re telling me you cannot afford P16,000 to allow this woman to have 40 days with her baby? Seriously? Tell that to every woman in her face, that you’re making millions of pesos and you cannot give her another P16,000," she said.
With the current 60-day leave, a mother could not even stay with her child until he holds his own head up, Cayetano said. This is what makes the additional 45 days necessary, she added.
"Look around. Do you see so many pregnant women working around?...Do you see those many pregnant women, even in the factory?," she said.
"I beg to disagree with the employers, those who are saying ‘we won’t hire women.’ Seriously? I ask you to take another look at this and look at this from the perspective of taking care of the women in the workforce," she added.
The 0.3 percent increase in contribution the SSS said it would need to support the costs of the expanded maternity leave is "very minimal," said Cayetano.
"There is a cost, but the 0.3 percent is so, so small...They have computed that that can be covered by efficiency," she said.