Thursday, June 24, 2021

Editorial: Impact of the expanded maternity leave

File photo

MOTHERS now will be able to spend more time with their newborns following the signing of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law.

The law increases the maternity leave period to 105 days to female workers, with an option to extend for an additional 30 days without pay. It also grants an additional 15 days for solo mothers.

Many women's groups lauded the signing of the law while DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said the law will benefit newborns and infants.

“When the first 1,000 days of life of an infant are ensured through proper health and nutrition interventions, far-reaching effects occur on children’s ability to grow and learn, thus giving them a fighting chance at rising out of poverty,” said Duque.

While it is good for mothers and the baby, the law might give companies and firms second thoughts on hiring married women, especially those who just got married and starting to build families.

The biggest challenge for companies is how they can ensure that the functions of the pregnant woman who is set to take a leave will be taken over. The company has to ensure that her functions are properly delegated to the team members. Clearly the law will have an impact on the operational structure of a company.

To prevent such discrimination, companies should now adapt to the law and put in place measures that will allow the smooth flow of operations of the company.

Also, probably not all mothers want to take a leave that long. We have heard of stories of some moms wanting to go back to work after a month or two. Maybe companies can start digitizing certain jobs to allow flexibility in the workplace and allow pregnant women who want to get back to work to do their job remotely.

The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) is set to start with the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law.

We hope that they will include in the IRR provisions that will provide some sort of flexibility for the pregnant woman. For example, splitting the use of the 105 days. She can opt to use portions of the leave during the crucial months of pregnancy and the remaining during the time she gives birth until she is able to come back to work.

Another is a provision that will allow women to choose whether or not they will complete the 105 days.

Whether the law will create a better working environment for women or not, we have yet to see it in the coming years. However, an IRR that is well crafted and have inputs from the mothers themselves, could possibly prevent any discrimination from happening.


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