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February 27, 2019

Philippines ups paid maternity leave for workers

By Hannah Abdulla

Female workers in the Philippines will now benefit from increased paid maternity leave, as a new law comes into force.

The country’s president gave the final push on 21 February to a Senate Bill extending maternity leave in the country, according to worker rights group IndustriAll.

The new law increases the current paid maternity leave of 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for caesarian, to 105 days for female workers in government and the private sector, including those in the informal economy, regardless of civil status or the legitimacy of the child. It also allows allocation of up to seven days of leave to the child’s father.

In addition, the law covers the wage difference between the average or regular monthly salary and the full payment of the maternity benefit. Exceptions, like micro-business enterprises and retail/service establishments employing less than ten workers, are subject to annual submission of justification for exemption.

Businesses that are found to not comply with the law can be fined up to P20,000.00 – 200,000.00 (US$385-US$3,850), and six to 12 years in prison.

Eva Arcos, national vice president of Associated Labor Unions (ALU) and IndustriAll Women co-chair, said the move would be “very good for mothers’ and babies’ health, it will protect jobs and secure the income of working women while on maternity leave”.

The Filipino garment industry used to be a major export force for the country but has struggled in recent years. However thanks to a surge in the number of foreign investors shifting production from China to avoid additional US tariffs, that slump may be over. 

Garment exports were up 7.1% year-on-year this August, generating US$97.4m in receipts, easily outpacing national overall export growth of just 3.1% that month. It was the third consecutive month the country’s clothing exports had risen year-on-year.

The Confederation of Garment Exporters of the Philippines (CONGEP) forecasts that garment exports will post year-on-year growth of between 10% and 20% this year. The Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP) expects the full-year tally to come in at between US$1.3bn and US$1.5bn.

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