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  • The Expanded Maternity Leave Act Is Now A Law!

    The EML will provide 105 paid leave days to all working mothers, among other benefits.
    by Rachel Perez .
The Expanded Maternity Leave Act Is Now A Law!
PHOTO BY iStock
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • UPDATE: As of 11:53 a.m. today, February 21, 2019, DZBB Super Radyo and DZMM Teleradyo reported via Twitter that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the Expanded Maternity Leave Act of 2019.

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    The Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) Act has been much-awaited for years now, and today, February 21, 2019 is the day that the Filipino people will know the fate of the proposed additional measures that will benefit new moms and their newborns.

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    The ratified proposal was sent to Malacañang on January 21, 2019 for President Duterte's signature, which would make it into a law. Since it has remained unsigned a month later, there are three possible scenarios that could happen today:

    Scenario 1: The EML is signed into law.

    The president can still very much put his stamp of approval and support for the EML if he signs it until midnight today. This is what the proponents of the bill and its supporters have been counting on after the proposal was debated upon in both the Senate and the House of Representatives (HOR).

    The Senate passed its version, Senate Bill No. 1305, back in March 2017, while the HOR approved theirs, House Bill No. 4113, in September 2018. The bicameral conference committee finalized the bill in October 2018 and after some hiccups due to some "insertions," it was finally transmitted to the President's office last January 21, 2019.

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    Scenario 2: The EML gets vetoed.

    It will be unfortunate if the President decides to reject the proposed EML Act. However, it's not the end of the road. According to the Republic of the Philippines' Official Gazette, under the topic entitled The Legislative Process, "A bill may be vetoed by the President, but the House of Representatives may overturn a presidential veto by garnering a [two-thirds] vote."

    If the President vetoes the EML, it will be sent back to Congress. Both the Upper and Lower Houses should put it up for a vote, and they will need the numbers to counter the president's veto. However, sessions in both the Senate and HOR are in recess to make way for the upcoming elections in May 2019. Thus, discussions on the EML may happen when sessions resume briefly one week after elections, or much later, after the President's State of the Nation Address in July. If the EML would be put up to vote in July, it would be with a newly-elected batch of lawmakers.

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    Scenario 3: The EML lapses into law.

    "If the President does not act on a proposed law submitted by Congress, it will lapse into law after 30 days of receipt," according to the Legislative process published in the Official Gazette. "The new law shall take effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two national newspapers of general circulation," it further noted.

    If the President does not act on the EML bill—meaning if he doesn't sign or veto it today—it is as good as signed and automatically becomes a law. It's an unconventional yet legitimate process, and while it's not the victory that the supporters of the EML were hoping for, at the end of the day, it's still a win.

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    From the previous provision of 60 days maternity leave for women who gave birth via natural vaginal delivery, and 78 days maternity leave for women who gave birth via C-section, the EML proposes to provide 105 paid leave days to all working mothers both in the government and private sectors, regardless of how they gave birth. It applies to every pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, or stillbirth, irrespective of marital status.

    Other perks proposed by the EML include seven days out of the 105 paid leave days that may be transferred to the child's father, an additional 15 days of paid maternity leave to single moms, and the option to extend for 30 more days of leave without pay for all new moms.

    It may only be seven days more than what the International Labor Organization recommends, but the EML makes a huge difference for new moms, allowing them to focus on postpartum recovery, establishing breastfeeding and care routine for their newborns, and giving them time to arrange for caregivers before going back to work.

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    Many private companies are already providing more than what the previous law has mandated through their own policies, but it is hoped that with the EML, all moms would be given the benefit of an extended maternity leave with pay.

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