Gabriela warns firms ‘cold’ on EML not to violate law

With the passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) law getting cold reception from some business establishments, militant women’s group Gabriela issued a reminder that discriminating women workers because of the new law’s additional benefits is discriminatory and violates the Magna Carta for Women. 

Gabriela Southern Mindanao chairperson Jean Lindo welcomed the signing into law of the expanded maternity leave benefits but she also slammed some business firms which claimed that they will be adversely affected by the law’s passage. The Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710) is a comprehensive law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women. 

“Those who think that hiring women will bring huge loss to the company or to the country are wrong. Countries that are economically advanced also have women enjoying gainful employment and involved in politics,” Lindo said. 

She also said that the EML benefits “is nothing compared to lifelong exploitation of professionals which is being practiced to ensure corporate profit.”

President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed the EML, granting all working mothers in the government and private sector are guaranteed with 105 days of paid maternity leave credits, with 7 days transferable to fathers. An additional 15 days of paid leave will be granted to single mothers. Under the previous law, employed women are entitled to 60 days of paid leave for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarean delivery.

Prior to the law’s passage, there had been reports that some companies will prioritize hiring men over women in order to avoid paying extra benefits.

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the EML has yet to be released within 45 days after its signing. 

As this developed, veteran lawyer and Law School dean Edison Batacan said that the law in other countries has a wider coverage, as compared here in the country. He admitted that the benefits that the law mandates is a setback to the employers. 

“If I am the employer and I know that this employee who would eventually get married then gets pregnant, I will be giving additional benefits to them, probably that would discourage me from hiring that prospective employee,” Batacan said. 

Alexandra Borja-Dionisio, moderator of Dawow Moms Group Community, said that the 105 days provided by the new law is very important, especially for first time mothers. 

“The first three months postpartum is very crucial for the mom’s healing and the baby’s development. This will definitely help in all aspect, most especially im battling against post partum depression (PPD),” Dionisio said. 

She said that prior to the law, pregnant employees were forced to file for unpaid leave of absence so they could rest before giving birth while others would opt to resign because of the uncertainty of being employed after giving birth.