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Rep. Alfredo D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City)

Solon proposes to increase maternity leave

Rep. Alfredo D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City)
Rep. Alfredo D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City)

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker is seeking to increase the maternity leave benefits for working mothers from 60 days to 120 days or four months.
Rep. Alfredo D. Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City) said increasing the present maternity leave would protect the right of the working mothers and their infants to proper health care.
Vargas explained in House Bill 6294 that as part of the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Philippines aims to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
“According to the 5th Philippine Progress Report on the MDGs, the Philippines has a high probability of achieving the 2015 target of reducing the mortality rate of children in 2011,” Vargas said.
The report showed that in 2011, the Philippines recorded a child mortality rate of 30 out of 1,000 live births, which is not far from the 2015 target of 26.7.
It also disclosed that infant mortality rate also decreased from 57 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 22 per 1,000 live births in 2011. The 2015 target is 19.
“However, it is feared that the Philippines will not meet its MDG target on maternal health as the maternal mortality ratio increased from 209 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 221 deaths in 2011, a far cry from the 2015 target of 52,” Vargas said.
Vargas said with 2015 nearing its end, the State must exhaust all efforts to ensure that the country will meet the target set forth by the United Nations.
According to Vargas, who is vice chairman of the Committees on Health and on Social Services, recent studies have shown that extending maternity leave for new mothers reduces infant mortality.
“The cause is yet to be known but it may be linked to longer periods of breast feeding and better health care. Extended paid maturity leave may also improve maternal health as it lessens the likelihood of miscarriage and complications,” Vargas said.
Under the proposal, every employer shall grant to any pregnant employee, who has rendered an aggregate service of at least six months for the last 12 months, maternity leave of at least two weeks prior to the expected date of delivery and another 14 weeks after normal or caesarian delivery, with full pay based on her regular or average weekly wages.
The bill amends for the purpose Presidential Decree (PD) No. 442, otherwise known as The Labor Code of the Philippines, as amended by RA No. 7322.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.